The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mike Cipra, National Parks Conservation Association, 760-366-7785

15th Anniversary of California Desert Protection Act Celebrates our National Parks, Launches New Mojave Friends Group

MOJAVE, Calif.

This Saturday, Oct. 31, more than 500 community members and
desert supporters will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the largest
national park and wilderness bill in the history of the lower 48
states: the California Desert Protection Act (CDPA). This landmark law,
championed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, expanded Death Valley and Joshua Tree into national parks and established the 1.6 million acre Mojave National Preserve.

"Today, our parks protect cactus gardens and Joshua tree forests,
palm oases and sand dunes. By visiting the California desert national
parks, you'll witness a remarkable diversity of wildlife, including 100
year-old tortoises and herds of bighorn sheep," said Mike Cipra,
California Desert Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation
Association. "Our national treasures belong to all of us, and this
celebration means we as citizens value the protection of these places
for our children and grandchildren."

The free event, hosted at Kelso Depot in the heart of the Mojave
National Preserve from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., will feature entertainment
by the Fort Mojave Tribal Band and guided park ranger tours. A
ceremony featuring diverse speakers will include activist Jim Dodson,
who worked on the original California Desert Protection campaign;
student advocate Lucas Basulto, speaking about how the desert parks
have impacted his life; former Death Valley Superintendent James T.
Reynolds; and cowboy poet Rob Blair.

The 15th anniversary celebration will also launch the newly formed,
first official "friends group" of the Mojave National Preserve -the
Mojave National Preserve Conservancy, a 501(c)3 non-profit and
co-sponsor the event. "The formation of this group is testimony to the
growing community support for our Preserve," said David Lamfrom,
President of the Mojave National Preserve Conservancy. "If you love the
Mojave and feel that it's important to experience this beautiful place,
to share it with our youth, and to protect it, we invite you to join
our budding Conservancy."

The friends group plans to organize guided spring wildflower tours,
hikes with Mojave National Preserve Superintendent Dennis Schramm,
night sky viewing parties with world-renowned astronomers, and
environmental education programs for youth.

"People from all over the world come to experience our desert, and
it's important that we take care of it," said Cipra. "Death Valley and
Joshua Tree National Parks, along with Mojave National Preserve,
generate more than $100 million in visitor spending each year for our
communities. These parks are the lifeblood of our economy, and it's up
to us to take care of them."

For more information, click here.

NPCA is a non-profit, private organization dedicated to protecting, preserving, and enhancing the U.S. National Park System.