Communities Celebrate 3rd Anniversary of California Desert National Monuments
Residents rally around trio of monuments, honoring the values they provide our local communities
MORONGO VALLEY – Local businesses, tribes, conservation groups, community leaders and more will come together Tuesday to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of San Bernardino County’s California Desert National Monuments. Designated by President Barack Obama on February 12, 2016, Mojave Trails, Castle Mountains and Sand to Snow National Monuments have since become beloved destinations, attracting visitors from around the world to experience the California desert.
“This celebration is a recognition of the community and volunteer effort that went into protecting these magnificent desert landscapes for future generations,” said April Sall, President of the California Desert Coalition. “The countless hours and engagement over the course of ten years represent a spectacular feat to leave the California Desert better than we found it. This was a truly visionary act, and a recognition of desert communities' tireless will to preserve a landscape and way of life we call home.”
All three California Desert monuments offer outstanding hiking, camping, hunting, rock-hounding, and opportunities for exploration on designated off-highway routes. Mojave Trails connects Joshua Tree National Park with the Mojave National Preserve, protecting archaeological and scientific wonders, important bighorn sheep and desert tortoise habitat, and cultural sites invaluable to the region’s Native American tribes.
“We're celebrating landscapes that represent a vast range of cultural and archaeological treasures, biological diversity and historical values to our region's Native American tribes,” said Michael Madrigal, President of the Native American Land Conservancy. “Our Desert monuments include cultural lands of supreme importance to tribes in our region, and we honor the protections they afford to our sacred places."
Sand to Snow boasts rare desert rivers, more than 1,700 Native American petroglyphs, and is the most biologically diverse of any U.S. national monument, with plants and animals not found anywhere else on Earth. The more remote Castle Mountains National Monument is home to rare native desert grasslands, sacred tribal sites, the historic gold mining ghost town of Hart, and the longest intact stretch of the original Route 66.
“Decades of grassroots engagement in desert communities have helped make the California desert one of the largest protected desert landscapes in the world,” said Frazier Haney, Associate Southern California Director for Conservation Lands Foundation. “Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains are expressions of that continued grassroots support for conserving this magnificent place. We hope more people can get involved and active in this legacy by joining in the myriad of events and outings, giving voice for continued protections, and volunteering their time to ensure this irreplaceable treasure remains protected for public use.”
Designation of the monuments was initiated by California’s U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who wanted protection for lands not included in the 1994 California Desert Protection Act. Working with business organizations, veterans, faith leaders, tribes, Latino groups, conservationists, and others, she asked President Obama to create the three monuments connecting existing parks and wilderness areas.
Tuesday’s celebration reinforces a public sentiment in direct opposition to the Trump Administration’s actions to reduce the size of national monuments and open up public lands with vital natural, recreational and historic features to oil and gas development. Sen. Feinstein, Sen. Kamala Harris and others have condemned President Trump’s actions and reaffirmed that national monuments are essential economic drivers that are built upon the support of local communities.
“The monuments’ designations were the culmination of years of community effort, resulting in increased tourism to the area, new energy in the local business community, and greater recognition of how special areas like Big Morongo Canyon really are,” said Meg Foley, Executive Director Friends of Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. “I’m proud to add my voice to those celebrating the third anniversary of our California Desert National Monuments.”
About the Conservation Lands Foundation
The Conservation Lands Foundation is the only organization dedicated solely to protecting, restoring and expanding the National Conservation Lands so they will endure from generation to generation. The National Conservation Lands are 36+ million acres of protected public lands, rivers and trails managed by the Bureau of Land Management, that have joined the ranks of our national parks and wildlife refuges as guardians of our nation’s natural, cultural and outdoor heritage, and drivers of its $887 billion outdoor recreation economy. Learn more at www.ConservationLands.org.