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Happy 15th Birthday, California Desert Protection Act!
Mt. Teutonia in Mojave National Preserve. Light from Los Angeles, 175 miles away, can be seen to the right. | Photo by isubiker via Flickr
It may be Halloween, but it is also the anniversary of a major environmental bill that affected close to 9.2 million acres of California desert back in 1994. The California Desert Protection Act brought us two national parks, one national preserve, millions of acres of federal wilderness areas, as well as other special areas from Death Valley to the Mexico border.
Specifically, the Act brought us...
- Designated the 1.4-million-acre Mojave National Preserve from public lands transferred from BLM to NPS;
- Added 1.3 million acres to Death Valley from lands transferred from BLM to NPS and designated it a national park;
- Added 234,000 million acres to Joshua Tree from lands transferred from BLM to NPS and designated it a national park;
- Designated 74 new wilderness areas in the California Desert, totaling 7,661,069 acres managed by NPS, BLM, and Forest Service;
- Designated eight wilderness study areas (WSAs), totaling 326,430 acres managed by BLM;
- Designated several areas with special features, including the 9,000-acre Granite Mountain Natural Preserve the Soda Springs Desert Study Center, the 2,040-acre Desert Lily Sanctuary, and the 590-acre Dinosaur Trackway Area of Critical Environmental Concern;
- Transferred 20,500 acres of public lands from BLM to the state of California to expand the Red Rock Canyon State Park; and
- Reauthorized several military withdrawals to be managed by the Department of Defense in cooperation with the Department of the Interior.
A celebration today at the Mojave National Preserve marked the launch of a new non-profit conservancy group, the Mojave National Preserve Conservancy. Mojave, by the way, is the third largest National Park Service unit outside Alaska. Something to take note of when driving between L.A and Las Vegas.