joshua tree park

Obama Creates Three National Monuments to Preserve California Desert

When the legislative system fails you, write a letter to the Commander in Chief for help. That’s what Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) did, and it resulted in the designation of three national monuments over the weekend.

According to a statement from The White House, the newest national monuments will encompass nearly 1.8 million acres in southern California, and “nearly doubles the number of acres of public lands previously protected as national monuments by President Obama.”

The three monuments, Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains, will link together existing protected lands in California like Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve

It’s been a long struggle between environmental groups, mining interests, and ranchers to preserve these lands.

Unable to gain momentum on her California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act last year, Feinstein and conservation groups wrote a letter to Obama to act unilaterally to create the three monuments overlapping biological zones between roughly Palm Springs and the Nevada border, reported Louis Sahagun  for the Los Angeles Times.

“I’m full of pride and joy knowing that future generations will be able to explore these national monuments and that the land will remain as pristine as it is today,” Feinstein said in a statement.

According to The Smithsonian, below are the key things to note about each new monument:

Mojave Trails National Monument 

This is the largest of the newly protected areas and spans 1.6 million acres, over 350,000 of which were already protected. The area includes ancient Native American trading routes, a long stretch of Route 66, and World War II training camps. Natural highlights include the Pisgah Crater lava flowsMarble Mountains Fossil Beds, and the Amboy Crater.

Sand to Snow National Monument 

This new monument spans 154,000 acres, over 100,000 of which were already protected. The area is known for its diverse terrain, habitat linkages, and thousands of ancient petroglyphs.

Castle Mountains National Monument 

This new monument spans 20,920 acres in what KCET’s Chris Clarke calls “a botanical wonderland.” The area spans a mountain range with diverse desert flora and spectacular views.

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