President Obama to Designate Three New National Monuments in the California Desert

President Obama will designate three new national monuments in the California desert that will safeguard nationally significant historical, cultural, geological and ecological resources. The new monuments – Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains – include Southern California’s highest peak (Mount San Gorgonio), the headwaters of its longest river (the Santa Ana), the longest intact stretch of the iconic Route 66, and many other important resources.

“We are extremely grateful to President Obama for his foresight and leadership to protect these remarkable and fragile places in the California desert,” said Dan Smuts, The Wilderness Society’s California Senior Regional Director. “These national monuments not only protect important natural and cultural resources, but will also bring more visitors to hike, camp, and explore – which is great for the local economy. Moreover, they protect critical migration corridors that are essential for desert wildlife to adapt to a changing climate.”

This historic presidential action is welcomed by a broad coalition of local residents and elected officials, community leaders and business owners, veterans, tribes, outdoor recreation advocates, faith leaders, historians, conservationists, and others who have worked for nearly a decade, with leadership from U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, to achieve permanent protection for these important desert areas.

Mojave Trails National Monument:

  • A critical linkage between Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park
  • Refuge for bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and fringe-toed lizards.
  • Sensitive underground springs
  • Amboy Crater – one of North America’s youngest volcanoes
  • 550 million-year-old fossil beds of the Marble Mountains
  • World War II desert training center, Iron Mountain
  • Largest intact, open stretch of historic Route 66


Castle Mountains National Monument:

  • Critical pathways for endangered wildlife
  • Native American archaeological sites
  • Historic gold mining ghost town of Hart
  • Native desert grasslands and Joshua tree, pinion pine and juniper forests
  • Target area for reintroduction of pronghorn, the second fastest species of land mammal in the world
  • Spectacular views of California and Nevada peaks, including Nevada’s Spirit Mountain

Sand to Snow National Monument:

  • Headwaters of the Whitewater and Santa Ana Rivers
  • Black Lava Butte and Flat Top Mesa Native American cultural sites
  • Home to more than 240 types of migrating birds, including yellow chat and vermilion flycatchers
  • Wildlife paths for mule deer, mountain lions, black bears, bighorn sheep, and desert tortoise
  • 25 miles of the iconic Pacific Crest Trail
  • Home to one of the most botanically diverse mountains in the United States

The Wilderness Society is proud to have participated in the campaign to safeguard the California desert. We thank President Obama for having the wisdom and conviction to protect these irreplaceable national treasures, and we are grateful to Senator Dianne Feinstein for her steadfast efforts on behalf of the rich heritage and natural resources within California’s public lands.


The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 700,000 members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.    


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