New California National Monuments Designated

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Today, President Obama established three new national monuments, conserving approximately 1.8 million acres of land in the California desert. The addition of these areas to already protected lands in Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve will help to further sustain important ecosystems and wildlife corridors unique to southern California.

Read the complete presidential proclamations:

Mojave Trails National Monument
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/12/presidential-proclamation-establishment-mojave-trails-national-monument

Sand to Snow National Monument
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/12/presidential-proclamation-establishment-sand-snow-national-monument

Castle Mountain National Monument
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/12/presidential-proclamation-establishment-castle-mountains-national

Following are some of the highlights of the new monuments.

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Mojave Trails National Monument

At 1.6 million acres, the largest of the new monuments borders the Mojave National Preserve, Kelso Dunes Wilderness and Bristol Mountains Wilderness, and the Nevada state border, and includes numerous Bureau of Land Management wilderness areas, from Sheephole Valley in the southwest to Bigelow Cholla Garden in the northeast. In addition to the desert habitat, Mojave Trails will also protect historic areas including World War II-era training camps, and ancient Native American trading routes. The area is a magnificent landscape that includes lava flows, sand dunes against a mountainous backdrop. It also includes the “longest remaining undeveloped stretch” of historic Route 66.

Map of Mojave Trails National Monument. Source: U.S. Department of the Interior.
Map of Mojave Trails National Monument. Source: U.S. Department of the Interior.


Sand To Snow National Monument

This 154,000-acre preserve protects a particularly important habitat for wildlife, home to twelve species of threatened or endangered animals and more than 240 species of birds. A Fact Sheet released today by the White House notes that this is “one of the most biodiverse areas in southern California.” Also contained within the monument are historically-significant archeological sites of Native American settlement in the area. Located south of Big Bear Lake, Sand To Snow borders the Morongo Reservation on the south and encompasses parts of the San Bernardino National Forest and the San Gorgonio Wilderness, and borders Joshua Tree Wilderness on the east.

Map of Sand To Snow National Monument. Source: U.S. Department of the Interior.
Map of Sand To Snow National Monument. Source: U.S. Department of the Interior.


Castle Mountains National Monument

The smallest of the new monuments at just under 21,000 acres protects an important ecosystem for wildlife including mountain lions and bobcats, bighorn sheep and golden eagles and provides “a critical connection between two mountain ranges” for its resident species. It is surrounded by the Mojave National Preserve on the west, south and east, and borders the Nevada state line on the northeast. The monument itself surrounds, but does not include the Castle Mountain Mine Area, an 8,000-plus acre parcel owned by Toronto-based NewCastle Gold, which holds permits to excavate the area for ore. According to the President’s proclamation, these lands will be transferred to the National Park Service after mining and reclamation operations have terminated, or after ten years from today’s date should no mining occur in that time.

Map of Castle Mountain National Monument. Source: U.S. Department of the Interior.
Map of Castle Mountain National Monument. Source: U.S. Department of the Interior.

See photos and additional commentary on the new monuments at the White House blog post, "In Photos: President Obama Designates 3 National Monuments in California."

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