Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Victory: Obama Protects 1.8 million Acres of California Desert

Insights + Opinion
Victory: Obama Protects 1.8 million Acres of California Desert

California famously has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to landscapes: spectacular mountains, unique redwood forests and a coastline that ranges from idyllic beaches to rocky cliffs. But as many a lottery winner can tell you, even the most fabulous wealth can be squandered all too easily if one isn't careful. And once you've lost an ancient forest, an unspoiled coastline or a pristine desert, it's impossible to get it back.

That's why it's great news that President Obama has picked up where Congress left off more than 20 years ago when it passed the California Desert Protection Act. The newly designated Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains National Monuments protect parts of the Mojave and Sonoran wilderness that were being squeezed by growing populations in both southeastern California and southern Nevada as well as facing threats from mining and other industries.

Once considered hostile wastelands to be crossed as quickly as possible, the deserts of California are valued today for their austere grandeur, unique wildlife and (when the rains come, as they have this year) incredible wildflower displays. Supporting a thriving local tourism industry, millions of visitors each year visit Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks and the Mojave National Preserve. These lands are an irreplaceable part of our outdoor heritage and if you've never visited them, then you are in for a treat when you do. My family has taken some of our most memorable camping trips throughout this beautiful region.

The new national monuments contain both cultural and natural riches. They encompass ancient trade routes of indigenous Americans, as well as historic Route 66. They provide essential habitat for desert tortoise, bighorn sheep, mule deer, golden eagles and a host of migratory bird species. In fact, the striking landscapes that have been protected include not only deserts but also wetlands, woodlands and mountain vistas. They provide first-class opportunities for hiking, bird watching, horseback riding, snowshoeing and skiing.

The new monuments will also provide much-needed wildlife corridors between the San Bernardino Mountains, San Jacinto Mountains and Joshua Tree National Park, which will make it easier for plants and animals that are struggling to adapt both to climate change and encroaching urbanization. They will never know who was responsible for giving them a chance to survive, but we do.

Take a moment to thank President Obama for preserving these irreplaceable lands for generations to come.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE 

Despite Supreme Court Decision, Clean Energy Revolution Continues to Grow

17 House Democrats Introduce ‘Keep It In the Ground Act’ to Prohibit New Fossil Fuel Extraction on Public Lands

8 Things California Gov. Brown Doesn’t Want You to Know

Cities Unleash Secret Underground Weapon to Become Clean Energy Powerhouses

An Edith's Checkerspot butterfly in Los Padres National Forest in Southern California. Patricia Marroquin / Moment / Getty Images

Butterflies across the U.S. West are disappearing, and now researchers say the climate crisis is largely to blame.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A wildfire burns in the Hollywood hills on July 19, 2016 in Hollywood, California. AaronP / Bauer-Griffin / GC Images

California faces another "critically dry year" according to state officials, and a destructive wildfire season looms on its horizon. But in a state that welcomes innovation, water efficacy approaches and drought management could replenish California, increasingly threatened by the climate's new extremes.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Wisdom is seen with her chick in Feb. 2021 at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Jon Brack / Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge / Flickr / CC 2.0

Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.

Read More Show Less
Wind turbines in Norway. piola66 / E+ / Getty Images

By Hui Hu

Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.

Read More Show Less
Jaffa Port in Israel. theDOCK innovated the Israeli maritime space and kickstarted a boom in new technologies. Pixabay

While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.

Read More Show Less