Environment & Science

Feinstein introduces bill to create new national monuments in Southern California

File photo; Joshua Tree National Park.
File photo; Joshua Tree National Park.
/Dave Bezaire/Flickr Creative Commons

Sen. Diane Feinstein has introduced a bill that would create two new national monuments in Southern California. 

The two monuments would be in areas of San Bernardino County that Feinstein believes aren't adequately protected from development, including a swath of 211 square miles spanning the Coachella Valley desert to the peak of Mount San Gorgonio and another area of roughly 1,500 square miles near the Mojave National Preserve.

The bill, which is cosponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer, would also expand Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks, as well as the Mojave National Preserve.

Feinstein's plan calls for revising the California Desert and Protection Act — which she introduced in 1994 — by designating greater protection for wilderness areas and opening others up to more development for renewable energy resources and recreation. 

“This new bill preserves more land, sets aside off-road recreational sites and allows for the development of renewable energy in a responsible way," Sen. Feinstein said in an email statement. "With so many competing uses for this land, it is essential that we come together to build consensus—and I am very grateful for all the groups and individuals who are working to do just that.”

The 1994 law established the Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks and the Mojave National Preserve. 

Sen. Feinstein visited Whitewater Preserve in November, where she relaunched her bill proposal that's been in the works since 2009, The Desert Sun reported:

"This is the final campaign, and it's not going to be easy. Bills don't pass today, and they take years, so I'm really going to need your help," Feinstein told the group, which included leaders of conservation groups as well as county and city officials from Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

"I need your phone calls. I need you coming back to Washington. I need you to be at the committee hearings," Feinstein said. "If we can work out bipartisan sponsorship in the House of Representatives, we have a good chance to get this bill passed, I hope, within the next two years."

Feinstein's proposed national monuments: 

Map: Sand to Snow National Monument [view larger map]

Mojave Trails National Monument [view larger map]