"Our country is home to some of the most beautiful God-given landscapes in the world. We’re blessed with natural treasures – from the Grand Tetons to the Grand Canyon; from lush forests and vast deserts to lakes and rivers teeming with wildlife. And it’s our responsibility to protect these treasures for future generations, just as previous generations protected them for us."President Obama
Preserving the richness of our national parks, monuments, forests, and public lands is among the greatest bequests we leave to future generations. That is why President Obama has made it a priority from the start of his Administration to invest in and conserve America's natural treasures, protecting more than 265 million acres of land and water – more than any other president in American history.
Now, he's added a few million acres more.
Last week, he designated three new national monuments in the California desert: Mojave Trails National Monument, Sand to Snow National Monument, and Castle Mountains National Monument.
These designations encompass nearly 1.8 million acres, essentially doubling the number of acres of public lands he has protected during his time in office and solidifying his place as the most prolific conservationist in US history.
Spanning 1.6 million acres, including 400,000 acres of previously congressionally-designated Wilderness, the Mojave Trails National Monument is comprised of a stunning mosaic of rugged mountain ranges, ancient lava flows, and spectacular sand dunes.
The monument will protect irreplaceable historic resources including ancient Native American trading routes, World War II-era training camps, and the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of Route 66.
Additionally, the area has been a focus of study and research for decades, including geological research and ecological studies on the effects of climate change and land management practices on ecological communities and wildlife.
Encompassing 154,000 acres, including just over 100,000 acres of already congressionally-designated Wilderness, Sand to Snow National Monument is an ecological and cultural treasure and one of the most biodiverse areas in southern California, supporting more than 240 species of birds and 12 threatened and endangered wildlife species.
Home to the region’s tallest alpine mountain that rises from the floor of the Sonoran Desert, the monument also will protect sacred, archaeological and cultural sites, including an estimated 1,700 Native American petroglyphs. Featuring 30 miles of the world famous Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, the area is a favorite for camping, hiking, hunting, horseback riding, photography, wildlife viewing, and even skiing.
The Castle Mountains National Monument is an integral piece of the Mojave Desert with important natural resources and historic sites, including Native American archeological sites.
The 20,920-acre monument will serve as a critical connection between two mountain ranges, protecting water resources, plants, and wildlife such as golden eagles, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and bobcats.
This announcement is a testament to the persistence of so many people that have worked to safeguard America’s natural beauty. And it’s awesome for anyone who loves to be outdoors. Check out a few posts celebrating the President's announcement and the record of conservation we have all been a part of over the past seven years:
These monuments are an essential part of our heritage and as part of our nation's parks, they belong to all of us.
Last year, President Obama announced the Every Kid in a Park initiative to give every fourth-grade student and their families a free pass to National Parks and all other federal lands and waters for a full year. So rather than sitting in front of the TV or computer screen, get out and find a spot that takes your breath away. Check out FindYourPark.com to explore the natural beauty in your own community, and then bring your friends and family. These parks are our heritage, and yours to explore!
Clay Dumas is the Chief of Staff of the Office of Digital Strategy.