Obama conserves 1.8 million acres in California desert

Mojave Desert

Obama just doubled the amount of land he has converted to National Monument with the addition of 1.8 million acres in the Southern California desert. Photo: Twenty20

President Obama announced last night that he will be setting aside 1.8 million acres for preservation in the Southern California desert.

He set aside three areas to become National Monuments to preserve the fragile ecosystem and to set aside recreation areas for hikers, campers, rock climbers and others.

The largest National Monument is the Mojave Trails National Monument, which spans 1.6 million acres and will surround historic Route 66, between the Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park.

“…The Mojave Trails National Monument is comprised of a stunning mosaic of rugged mountain ranges, ancient lava flows and spectacular sand dunes,” The White House said in a statement.

The Sand to Snow National Monument will stretch 154,000 acres on the desert floor near Palm Springs to the peak of Mount San Gorgonio in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Joshua Tree

A rare greenery filled with Joshua trees will now be protected as part of the national monument status granted to Castle Mountain. Photo: Courtesy of Adam Foster/ Flickr

The smallest monument Obama announced will be the Castle Mountains National Monument which will fill a gap in the Mojave National Preserve. It will protect a rare desert grassland that is filled with Joshua trees.

“In addition to permanently protecting incredible natural resources, wildlife habitat and unique historic and cultural sites, and providing recreational opportunities for a burgeoning region, the monuments will support climate resiliency in the region … ,” the White House said in a statement.

This designation nearly doubles the amount of public land Obama has designated as a national monument since taking office.

Conservationists have been hoping to protect the area from solar energy and wind farms and California Senator Diane Feinstein has been working towards this goal for years.

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