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america national monuments

Rick Bowmer, File / Associated Press

The race is on to win President Barack Obama's attention as he puts some final touches on his environmental legacy.

Conservation groups, American Indian tribes and federal lawmakers are urging his administration to preserve millions of acres as national monuments. Such a designation often prevents new drilling and mining on public lands, or the construction of new roads and utility lines.

The flurry of activity is creating enthusiasm — and tensions — in several parts of the country.