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Obama Protects 1.8 Million Acres Of Desert With 3 New National Monuments

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The President designated three new national monuments yesterday, amounting to about 1.8 million acres of scenic California desert. President Barack Obama used the Antiquities Act to create the national monuments, which span from the Palm Springs area to the California-Nevada state border, AP reports. Senator Dianne Feinstein pushed for the designation for several years before asking Obama to create the three zones. These areas will connect to 7.6 million acres of desert that was covered in the 1994 California Desert Protection Act, the L.A. Times reports.

The new designation means the federal government will not only protect the areas and their wildlife, but will also provide an opportunity of humans to enjoy the scenic spots via camping, hiking and other recreational activities.

The three new monuments, according to a release from the White House, are: the Mojave Trails National Monument (1.6 million acres); Castle Mountains National Monument (21,000 acres); and the Sand to Snow National Monument (154,000 acres).

The Mojave Trails National Monument contains the largest undeveloped portion of Route 66, a number of WWII-era training camps, as well as Native American trading routes. Castle Mountains National Monument contains several Native American archaeological sites and is home to a number of animals, including golden eagles, bighorn sheep, mountain lions and bobcats. The Sand to Snow National Monument contains Mount San Gorgonio, which rises up from the floor of the Sonoran Desert. At 11,503 feet, this is the tallest alpine peak in SoCal. It's also home to 240 species of birds, about 1,700 Native American petroglyphs and the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.

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President Obama is headed to Palm Springs today after stopping by L.A. yesterday to record an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show and attend political fundraisers.