Monday, February 15, 2016

Three New Monuments

Driving the length of California's Central Valley, US Person was able to observe just how radically man has altered the natural landscape to suit his economic needs. It is very difficult for wild things to live in these massive monocultures because the natural food chain has been replaced or destroyed. So as a good steward of Earth it is man's responsibility to preserve those increasingly small regions where nature still balances the land.

Mojave Cholla cactus; credit Kolby
President Obama is leaving a legacy of natural monuments to his enduring credit, in the absence of progress through a deadlocked Congress. On February 12th he designated by executive authority three more national monuments sheltering 1.8m acres of public land in the deserts of Southern California: Mohave Trails National Monument, Sand to Snow National Monument and Castle Mountains National Monument. He has made more monument designations than any other president in history of 265m acres. The designations are located in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties and protect unique wildlife habitat, historic resources and cultural sites. Most importantly they connect existing reserves: Mohave National Preserve, Joshua Tree National Park, San Bernardino National Forest and fifteen wildlife reserves previously designated by Congress. This is conservation on a landscape scale. Senator Dianne Finestein provided leadership in the decades long effort to protect special areas of the southern California desert. The land remains open to current uses such as grazing, military practice ranges, hunting, and outdoor recreations.

Route 66
Mojave Trails National Monument spans 1.6m acres of Mojave desert landscape including 400,000 acres of previously designated wilderness and one of the last remaining stretches of undeveloped Route 66. Sand to Snow Monument provides abundant opportunities for recreation along thirty miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail while protecting important connective corridors for wildlife amid its 154,000 acres. Castle Mountains National Monument will serve as critical connection between two mountain ranges that are home to golden eagles, mountain lion, bighorn sheep and bobcats. The President is following a precedent set by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906 and exercised by 16 presidents since to preserve special natural areas under the federal Antiquities Act.