For Immediate Release
Thousands Voice Support for Proposed California Desert National Monuments
WHITEWATER, CA - From business leaders to recreationists, conservation groups to desert residents, almost 16,000 people have joined together in sending letters of support for permanent protection of some of the California Desert's most spectacular landscapes, recreation areas, and wildlife habitat.
Their calls to the Obama Administration to permanently safeguard these areas culminate the day before Senator Feinstein, Obama Administration officials, and other leaders host a community meeting on the proposed Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains National Monuments. The hearing will be Tuesday, October 13 at the Wildlands Conservancy in Whitewater, California.
"More than 20 years ago the California Desert Protection Act raised the profile of California's magnificent deserts. We now have an opportunity to continue the vision of permanently protecting the austere grandeur and unique wildlife of our desert," said Joan Taylor, vice chair of the Sierra Club's California/Nevada Desert Committee. "People from across state, across the country, and even around the world come to experience the wonder of the California Desert. It's time to put Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains national monuments on the map."
This most recent tidal wave of public comments adds to those from elected officials, business owners, veterans, faith leaders and others who have banded together to push permanent California desert protections over the finish line after nearly a decade of public meetings and local input. Within the proposed monument areas are irreplaceable historic, cultural and natural wonders-- from Historic Route 66 and American Indian petroglyphs, to the threatened desert tortoise and the headwaters of the Santa Ana River.
“The California desert is home to some of the most treasured and imperiled plants and animals in America, including the threatened desert tortoise and desert bighorn sheep. The habitat and wildlife corridors here are irreplaceable, and it is essential that this unique part of our country be protected, especially in the face of a changing climate,” said Kim Delfino, Defenders of Wildlife Director of California Programs.
“These rugged, beautiful California landscapes and the awesome plants and animals that live there will greatly benefit from the protections national monument status will give them, especially as climate change advances,” said Ileene Anderson, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity.
Designation of these areas as national monuments would protect the desert's natural beauty and enhance recreation opportunities; it would also be a boon to the local economy. Already Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks and other protected public desert lands contribute millions of dollars to the economy every year.
"The designation of the Sand to Snow, Mojave Trails and Castle Mountains National Monuments protect outstanding recreational opportunities, core habitat for iconic desert wildlife like bighorn sheep and desert tortoise and a tapestry of public lands which preserve important wildlife corridors between the national parks, Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service managed lands," said Seth Shteir, Desert Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. "The new monuments will also raise the profile of the California desert as a destination for tourism."
The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.