NPCA submitted the following position to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining ahead of a hearing scheduled for July 26, 2017.
NPCA urges members of the committee to support S. 32 when it is heard by the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining.
The California desert is world renowned for its vast and scenic landscapes. It is home to five iconic national park sites (Death Valley National Park, Mojave National Preserve, Joshua Tree National Park, Castle Mountains National Monument, and Manzanar National Historic Site), two National Park Service-managed National Historic Trails (Juan Bautista De Anza and the Old Spanish Trail) and many famous Bureau of Land Management national monuments and wilderness areas. The California desert is home to a spectacular diversity of natural resources and geologic features including sand dunes, natural limestone cave systems, lava flows and lava tubes, rugged desert mountains, forests of Joshua trees and yucca, cactus gardens, multi-colored mountains, wild and scenic rivers, and stone arches and hoodoos.
S. 32 proposes a thoughtful balance of responsible land-use management and opportunities for recreation and conservation. The California desert has long drawn residents from urban areas, and increasingly, visitors from around the world come to enjoy the desert’s open spaces, welcoming communities, and spectacular natural resources. Joshua Tree National Park alone recorded 2.5 million visitors in 2016, up from 2 million in 2015 making these public lands a significant economic engine for desert counties. In fact, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and Mojave combined to contribute 266 million dollars to California desert economies and communities.
This legislation enjoys tremendous grassroots support from local communities of recreationists, businesses and industry, faith-based groups, local tribes, and chambers of commerce. NPCA has worked in partnership with these local communities, elected officials, and stakeholders on California desert legislation since 2009 and continues to urge Congress to act to preserve this iconic landscape.