With multi-colored mountains, hidden springs, world-famous wildflowers, and majestic herds of bighorn sheep, the stark beauty of California’s Mojave, Sonoran and Great Basin deserts has inspired wonder, reverence, and tugged at the souls of Americans for centuries. These deserts are a bridge to our Native American, pioneer, and homesteading histories.
To some, the desert may seem invulnerable. But if we do not act quickly and make our voices heard, sensitive water resources, fragile wildlife habitat, recreation, and historic trails that drive tourism essential to the region’s economy could be lost forever.
For more than a decade, elected officials, business owners, veterans, local faith leaders, sportsmen, historians, conservationists and others have been working to protect this unique place and preserve our desert heritage for generations to come.
We have a unique opportunity to ensure that some of the most spectacular stretches of desert in California are protected, either through the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act or national monument designations.
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California Desert Protection and Recreation Act (S. 32): In 2017, Senator Feinstein reintroduced the California Desert Protection and Recreation Act to protect 328,867 acres of wilderness, enlarge desert national parks by 43,912 acres, protect 73 miles of streams as wild and scenic rivers, conserve over 100,000 acres in Imperial County as a special management area and to enhance off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation in some existing OHV areas.
California Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act (H.R. 857): Congressman Paul Cook introduced this measure in the House of Representatives as a companion-bill for Senator Feinstein’s legislation.
Imperial Valley Desert Conservation and Recreation Act (H.R. 827): Congressman Juan Vargas introduced this measure in the House of Representatives as a companion-bill for Senator Feinstein’s legislation.
In 2016, we were excited to celebrate the designation of three new national monuments:
Mojave Trails National Monument: One of North America’s most unique landscapes, the Mojave Desert is home to vital wildlife habitat, unspoiled desert vistas, and an incredible slice of American history. Mojave Trails is the connective tissue linking Mojave National Preserve to Joshua Tree National Park and existing Wilderness Areas, providing habitat for sensitive wildlife and pristine scenery. It contains irreplaceable archeological and cultural sites including sacred Native American trails and trade routes.
Sand to Snow National Monument: Rising dramatically from the Sonoran Desert floor to snowy peaks of Mount San Gorgonio, Southern California’s tallest alpine mountain, the proposed Sand to Snow National Monument is one of the most critical wildlife corridors in Southern California. It also boasts stunning cultural sites including a rich heritage of Native American petroglyphs and mortars.
Castle Mountains National Monument: The Castle Mountains encompass native desert grasslands and wildlife habitat for Golden Eagles, and some of the finest Joshua tree, pinon pine, and juniper forests in the California Desert. The area features stunning vistas of the rocky California and Nevada desert mountain ranges, including Nevada’s Spirit Mountain, which is revered by southwestern Native American tribes and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
We are a coalition of conservation groups, community leaders and businesses dedicated to protecting our desert landscapes, celebrated both for their contributions to America’s natural and cultural heritage and to the regional economy.
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California Senator Dianne Feinstein has introduced legislation to add additional protections to publicly owned land in the California Desert to preserve our desert heritage for generations to come. Please thank her today!