If you’ve ever spent time in the California desert, you know that it’s a special place. Vistas stretch far beyond the imagination, offering the humbling feeling of being a very tiny part of a very expansive world. Towering cliffs and plunging canyons provide history-soaked fodder for adventure. Coyotes howl in the night, jackrabbits dart around in the shimmering sun, and bighorn sheep execute complex gravity-defying maneuvers across sheer rock faces. An unreal palette of sunrise and sunset light paints a world of geologic wonders. The desert is much more than the flat expanse of sand and tumbleweeds many imagine it to be – it’s absolute magic.
If you haven’t been, but would like to see a little of this magic for yourself, have a quick look at this video:
Our California deserts are some of the most highly contested, but passionately defended lands in the country. The California Desert Protection Act of 1994 gave us Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks, as well as Mojave National Preserve, designated a wide array of wilderness areas, and supported the rights of indigenous people on these lands, among other things. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the author of the original Act, has over the years proposed several updates, including this year’s California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act of 2015 – in order to further the protections of California deserts and to ensure these resources remain accessible to those with a variety of interests.
In these last few years, Feinstein and a wide group of supporters including The Wildlands Conservancy, Mojave Desert Land Trust, Sierra Club, Latino Conservation Alliance, Patagonia, The North Face, and beyond, have done something usually unheard of in the political realm (especially in the environmental/conservation sector) and rallied an incredibly varied group of folks – from hikers to hunters, bikers to off-road vehicle enthusiasts, conservationists to renewable energy interests – to back this legislation. Incredibly impressive, to say the least.
Perhaps the biggest outcome if this amended Act passes is the establishment of three new National Monuments – Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains. We’ve had the pleasure of exploring several places within these areas and were blown away by the beauty – and incredibly diversity – on display.
If the desert’s magic resonates with you – or if you are simply a supporter of protecting our public lands – you’ll want to free up your schedule this Tuesday, October 13th, to attend a public meeting held by Senator Feinstein (along with Department of Interior Deputy Secretary Mike Conner, Undersecretary of Agriculture Robert Bonnie, and other senior officials) at Whitewater Preserve to discuss the proposed designation of these Monuments – and you’ll have a chance to make your voice heard, as well.
Date: Tuesday, October 13
Time: Doors open at noon; arrive no later than 1pm
Place: Whitewater Preserve – 9160 Whitewater Canyon Road, Whitewater, CA 92282 (map/directions)
RSVP: Campaign for the California Desert (If transportation is a barrier to meeting attendance, you can also inquire about shuttle ride service once you RSVP)
If you can’t attend Tuesday’s meeting, but would still like to voice your support for the Monuments campaign, you can visit the Campaign for the California Desert website to sign a petition that will be sent to President Obama to urge him to designate these Monuments, and/or sign up for their newsletter to receive updates on the campaign. You can also find more information by visiting The Wildlands Conservancy website. Finally, Keen is also running a fantastic #LiveMonumental campaign that includes the push for Mojave Trails, and you can sign a petition with them, as well.