Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Glimmer of Hope for the Desert Bill

From the Mojave Desert Blog -

The U.S. Senate is considering legislation that would combine several land and water conservation bills into one package--called an omnibus bill--and putting it up for a vote before Congress concludes business at the end of the year.  Senator Feinstein's proposed California Desert Protection Act of 2010 (CDPA 2010, S. 2921) could be a part of the omnibus bill.  If CDPA 2010 is not included, or if the omnibus bill never materializes, the proposed National Monuments in California's Mojave and Sonoran deserts may never receive protected status.

As a recap for those not familiar with the bill,  CDPA 2010 would balance conservation of natural areas and preservation of recreation opportunities by establishing:
  • Mojave Trails National Monument: 941,413 acres of Mojave Desert along Historic Route 66 and the southern boundary of the Mojave National Preserve.  Many of the valleys in this area were proposed for industrial development, and could still be vulnerable to destructive uses if the legislation does not pass.
  • Sand to Snow National Monument:  133,524 acres of habitat connecting desert habitat adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park and wilderness in the high country of San Bernardino National Forest.
  • Additional or expanded wilderness: 346,108 acres of new wilderness areas or additional acreage for existing wilderness areas.  Much of the new or added wilderness would be in the northern Mojave Desert. The western Mojave and northern Colorado Desert region (part of the Sonoran Desert) would not see many new protections.
  • Recreation areas: The bill would legislatively designate five off-highway vehicle (OHV) use areas, all in the Mojave Desert.  As a compromise for designating land within proposed monuments or wilderness areas as off-limits to OHV, the legislation would secure off-road enthusiasts' access to several large parcels of land.
CA Desert Protection Act Map                                                                 
Also please view this post, which implores readers to urge Senator Feinstein to include the CDPA in an omnibus bill before the end of the year.

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