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President Obama's New National Monuments Protect the California Desert

16 Feb 2016  |   Arian Rubio

Last Friday President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains as national monuments. This action shows President Obama’s dedication to conserving and protecting these California desert landscapes for future generations.

Permanent protection will save the area’s precious natural resources, help drive economic growth for surrounding areas, and buffer the desert and its wildlife from its greatest long-term threat: climate change. President Obama’s actions also show his strong commitment to listening to local communities. For more than a decade, elected officials, business and conservation leaders, and grassroots activists alike have been working to permanently protect some of America’s most beautiful desert areas: the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains monuments of California’s deserts. These designations show the Obama Administration’s support alongside various elected officials, local governments, business leaders, Native American tribes, and many community groups and organizations.  For years leaders like Senator Dianne Feinstein have been bringing stakeholders together to push for permanent protection of these majestic desert landscapes. 

President Obama has shown his strong perseverance in protecting America’s environment alongside its economy. Through protecting these national monuments, the Obama Administration has shown its dedication towards growing the tourism and recreation economies. Outdoor recreation contributes billions of dollars each year to local communities through consumer spending, and these designations – supported by both business leaders and recreationists – ensure that the vast recreational opportunities in the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains will continue to contribute to California’s local economies. In addition to the recreational opportunities for those who live in California and neighboring states, the protection of these natural treasures ensures that tourists are able to come and see the landscapes, conserving the land for tourism to the states and local communities.

Protecting the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains areas ensures that these desert landscapes will be available for future generations to come and enjoy these lands. The Mojave Trails National Monument ensures that national treasures—such as the natural splendor of Amboy Crater, the fossil beds of the Marble Mountains, and the bighorn sheep of the Cady Mountains—are permanently protected. The Sand to Snow National Monument ensures that the area’s ecological diversity is not threatened by exploitation and that visitors can continue to participate in the area’s diverse recreational opportunities.  The Castle Mountains National Monument ensures the protection of wildlife habitats for many different desert species and maintains key cultural sites such as Nevada’s Spirit Mountain and California’s ghost town of Hart.

We applaud President Obama’s historic actions—along with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, whose agencies manage these landscapes—and look forward to what’s ahead on land preservation in the administration’s final year in office. 

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