Press Release Feb 9, 2015

California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act to Complete a Landscape-Level Conservation Legacy

California Conservation and Recreation Act (CDCRA) would Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks and designate the Sand to Snow and Mojave Trails as National Monuments

Joshua Tree, CA – Building upon a landscape-level legacy for the California desert that began more than 20 years ago, the National Parks Conservation Association joined community leaders in applauding Senator Dianne Feinstein’s introduction today of the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act.

The California Conservation and Recreation Act (CDCRA) would provide 75,000 total acres of expansions to Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks as well as the designation of the Sand to Snow and Mojave Trails National Monuments. The legislation calls for new and expanded wilderness area designations, as well as providing Wild and Scenic River protections to the Whitewater River, Deep Creek, and the Amargosa River – crucial waterways for the California desert. Areas of cultural and historic significance, including Flat Top Mesa and Black Lava Butte, are also included in the balanced legislation. Combined, the legislation provides new recreational opportunities, protects sensitive wildlife corridors, and protects fragile resources including water supplies within the California desert.

“The California Conservation and Recreation Act provides the chance for Congress to achieve unparalleled success in landscape-level protections for our diverse national parks and public lands that stand to have far-reaching economic and ecological benefits,” said Seth Shteir, California Desert Field Representative for the National Parks Conservation Association. “The past 20 years have marked an incredible change in the way Americans and international audiences appreciate and recreate in our desert landscapes. Passing this legislation would be a gift with far-reaching benefits for our communities, international visitors, and the wildlife and wild places found only in this region.”

“As the former Superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park and from more than 37 years with the National Park Service, I’ve seen that the establishment of our desert national parks required consistent political leadership, extensive debate, and artful compromise,” said Mark Butler, former Superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park. “The CDCRA has required nothing less. With positive leadership, it has gained widespread support from conservationists, off road vehicle enthusiasts, veterans, national park visitors, businesses and others who all would like to see desert based land use conflicts resolved. Now is the time for our elected representatives to come together and pass this legislation.”

Outside of enhanced national parks and other public lands, the CDCRA stands to increase tourism-related economic benefits and support jobs throughout the region. In 2013, a combined 2,884,000 visitors to Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve alone infused surrounding communities with upwards of $168 million in visitor spending, which supported more than 2,000 local jobs.

“Protecting our public lands is an investment in our future. This new bill will make the California desert a destination for tourists throughout the state, nation and the world,” said Bob Leone, member of the Yucca Valley Town Council. “I know from experience that visitors to Joshua Tree National Park and other public lands surrounding our town play a critical role in supporting many of our yucca valley businesses. Many communities in the desert area will reap the benefits of the designation of new monuments, wilderness areas, national park additions and the permanent protection of places where people can legally ride off road vehicles and take part in many other recreational activities.“

The California Desert Protection Act, championed by then-freshmen Senator Dianne Feinstein and signed into law by President Clinton in October of 1994, marked the largest landscape protection victory in the lower 48 states and ushered in a new era of opportunities for the California desert and surrounding communities. The legislation designated Mojave National Preserve, enhanced acreage and elevated Joshua Tree and Death Valley from national monuments to national parks.

Click here for additional comments by community leaders on the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act.

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About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.