Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 12, 2016

Contact: Ileene Anderson, (323) 654-5943

President Obama Designates Three New California Desert National Monuments

LOS ANGELES— The Center for Biological Diversity today celebrates the announcement of President Obama’s designation of three national monuments in the Southern California desert as envisioned for more than a decade by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Obama used the Antiquities Act to designate the Mojave Trails, the Sand to Snow and the Castle Mountains national monuments. National monument designation means these special places will be forever protected and accessible to the public.

“California’s deserts include some of the most spectacular scenery in the nation, and serve as a refuge for some of the most rare and endangered plants and animals,” said Ileene Anderson with the Center. “The Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains national monuments offer enduring protections for these places and would allow future generations of all species to enjoy them. Thank you, President Obama.”

This designation culminates Sen. Feinstein’s legislative efforts to protect the California desert. These new monuments help to link Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park, allowing wildlife to migrate in a changing climate. In permanently protecting these special places, the president follows in the footsteps of nearly every president since 1906 — eight Republicans and eight Democrats — who have used the Antiquities Act to leave a legacy of national monuments more than 140 times. 

About the National Monuments

The Mojave Trails National Monument preserves 1.6 million acres of diverse and striking desert lands and helps to link Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve. Named for the most pristine stretch of historic Route 66, with wide-open desert vistas, the lands in the national monument are habitat for threatened desert tortoises, iconic desert bighorn sheep and many other desert dwellers. National monument status protects the existing uses of these lands for outdoor enjoyment and maintains key wildlife connections between Joshua Tree and the Mojave National Preserve and wilderness areas. 

The Sand to Snow National Monument rises from the Sonoran Desert floor up to Southern California’s tallest mountain, Mount San Gorgonio. It contains extraordinarily over 154,000 acres of diverse landscapes and habitats, including alpine peaks, Joshua tree woodlands, mountain vistas, rivers and wetlands, and desert. This area includes 25 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail and the headwaters of Southern California’s longest river, the Santa Ana, as well as the headwaters of the Whitewater River. World-class hiking, backpacking, wildlife and bird-watching are readily available throughout the seasons.

The Castle Mountains National Monument conserves a 20,000-acre missing piece in the northern part of the Mojave National Preserve and provides vital habitat for golden eagles, bighorn sheep, mountain lions and bobcats. Castle Mountains offers unparalleled opportunities to study wildlife movements; it is home to sensitive bat species, and it is a target location for the reintroduction of pronghorn — the second-fastest land mammal in the world.

The Castle Mountains were originally left out of the Mojave National Preserve when it was established because of a large operational gold mine. The mine has since been reclaimed, and the Castle Mountains take their correct place as a rugged addition to the conserved landscape.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Go back