Press Release – Feinstein legislation will protect California’s desert heritage

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (February 9, 2015) – The Conservation Lands Foundation praised U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) introduction of a bill that will permanently protect the California desert’s incredible scenery, preserve access for hunting and hiking, and conserve the region’s outstanding archaeological and historical resources by establishing two new national monuments and wilderness areas that will be added to the National Conservation Lands.

“The California desert is a remarkable area and one of the most diverse landscapes in our state, said Sam Goldman, California State Director with the Conservation Lands Foundation. “This bill was developed through consultation with business owners, off-road vehicle groups, veterans, local conservation organizations and faith leaders who all understand that we can both protect the natural wonders that draw visitors to the California desert while supporting outdoor recreation and tourism important to our economy. We appreciate the Senator’s leadership and her work with local communities to protect our desert heritage for our children and grandchildren.”

The California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act would create two new national monuments: Sand to Snow, which would stretch from Mount San Gorgonio almost to Joshua Tree National Park, providing landscape-level connections between protected wilderness around the Coachella Valley; and Mojave Trails, between Joshua Tree and the Mojave Preserve.

“The California Desert is one of the most intact landscapes in the United States, and one of the most accessible.  The Senator’s California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act protects this natural heritage while providing for public access that supports regional tourism and recreation. Mojave Desert Land Trust looks forward to working on behalf these places as they become part of our national conservation legacy,” stated Frazier Haney, Conservation Director with the Mojave Desert Land Trust.

The proposed monuments, within a few hours drive from Los Angeles, would protect a historically rich landscape, wildlife habitats for mountain lions, bighorn sheep and California desert tortoises and biological zones such as desert scrub and yellow pine forests, as well as year-round streams, rugged mountains, extinct volcanoes, sand dunes and ancient petroglyphs.

Senator Feinstein’s legislation would also protect California’s clean water by adding over 70 miles of the Amargosa River, Deep Creek, Surprise Canyon and the Whitewater River to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

The legislation, which was developed through consultation with elected officials, business owners, off-road vehicle groups, veterans, local conservation organizations and faith leaders, would expand Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks, and the Mojave National Preserve.

In addition to providing additional protection for areas of natural and cultural significance to Californians, the legislation will also boost ecotourism, which is a large part of the regional economy.

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