What is a national monument?

A national monument is a designation given to an area of federal public land that contains unique scientific, cultural, natural and historical features, so that the area is protected for future generations. National monuments are all unique, and each is designed to protect the unique value of the area while allowing other compatible uses, such as outdoor recreation and ranching, to continue.


How is a national monument created?

A national monument can be established by either the president or Congress and can be managed by one of the following agencies: the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S Forest Service, National Park Service, or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This designation only applies to lands managed by the federal government and does not apply to private, state, county, city, or other local lands. It also does not affect rights held by water agencies, tribes, sanitation districts and land management agencies.

Since 1906, both Republican and Democratic presidents have used their authority to designate more than 100 national monuments including many of our most beloved public lands in California.

How would a national monument benefit the land and people?

Designating the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains as national monuments will:

  • Safeguard the natural, historic, recreational and scenic features in several of the most spectacular lands in the California desert from industrial development;
  • Ensure that these public lands remain open to traditional uses, outdoor recreation, hunting, and grazing;
  • Provide opportunities for ongoing community involvement in the management planning process;
  • Bring more prominent awareness and visitation, promoting tourism and economic opportunity in the surrounding communities.

Additionally, protecting public lands in the California desert has already brought noteworthy economic benefits to the region. Visitors to Death Valley and Joshua National Parks and the Mojave National Preserve contributed $165 million to the region’s economy in 2013, supporting nearly 2,000 jobs.

National monuments in the California desert will continue to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as part of the National Conservation Lands. As part of this system of protected lands, monuments are managed for multiple uses, including outdoor recreation and conservation of natural, cultural, historical, and archeological resources. In addition, traditional rights, current and valid grazing and mining leases, and rights-of-way will be honored.

Has there been local input in the effort to establish these national monuments?

These national monument proposals came in response to nearly a decade of work by local leaders on legislative efforts to protect the California desert. The effort to have either Congress or the president permanently protect these special places is supported by elected officials, business owners, veterans, local faith leaders, anglers, historians, conservationists and others.

Would community members have a say in how the national monuments are managed?

Senator Feinstein’s California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act includes a formal process for public input. In the case of a presidential designation, the community would be invited to participate in a formal public input process to help develop BLM’s management plan for the monuments.

Does a national monument designation impact private property?
A national monument designation does NOT impact state, local, or private property rights or boundaries. Landowners can continue to access and enjoy the use of their property. Additionally, a designation does not apply extra regulatory or land use authority over existing state agencies or local governments.
Will a national monument designation impact law enforcement, fire fighting, utilities, water rights, or grazing?
Law enforcement authority, jurisdiction, and responsibility will not change. Fire fighting authority, jurisdiction, and responsibility will not change. Existing utility rights-of-way will be maintained. Existing water rights will be maintained. Existing grazing rights and permits will be maintained.
What will happen to existing uses of the lands in the proposed national monuments?

Existing recreational uses such as hunting, camping and other activities will typically continue if the areas are designated as national monuments. A comprehensive management plan will be drafted in which the public will have significant input. The point of the designation is to protect access and the special features of these areas as well as keep them free of industrial development and open to the public.

Does a national monument designation require the creation of a user fee?
Simply designating a national monument does not automatically create user fees, regardless of how it is designated. Land managers make this determination while developing the resource management plan for a national monument.
Will this limit the number of visitors allowed in the monument on a daily basis?
Designation of a national monument will not create a cap on the number of visitors allowed in the area.
Does monument designation have any impact on additional development near the proposed national monuments?
Designation of national monuments will not affect development rights or local zoning on nonfederal lands. Additionally, designations do not impact management of federal lands outside of a monument itself.