More areas within Southern California’s desert are being closed due to new national monuments. This time President Obama used his power under the Antiquities Act to sign a proclamation designating the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains national monuments.
Senator Dianne Feinstein is in hot water with off-roaders as the executive action left out some of the obligations she had promised to off-roaders. “I’m full of pride and joy knowing that future generations will be able to explore these national monuments and that the land will remain as pristine and as it is today. To a city girl like me, this expanse of desert, with its ruggedness and unique beauty, is nothing short of awe-inspiring,” Feinstein said in a statement in August.
She is trying to make things right and create new legislation that will offer permanent protection for five off-highway recreation areas outside the monument in an attempt to make things right. According to her staff, the date for the introduction of the bill that would create 142,000 acres of off-highway recreation areas is not yet known at this time.
“Those carefully negotiated provisions, which represent our best attempt to achieve consensus among desert stakeholders, deserve to become law,” she said. “Off-roaders were a vital part of the coalition we put together, and unfortunately those lands could not be designated under executive action. Off-roaders deserve certainty about their future use of the land, just as there is now certainty for conservation purposes.”
Representative Paul Cook of Yucca Valley, said he will continue to push his competing bill, the California Minerals, Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act of 2015, through Congress. It would allow new mining claims, expanded off-road vehicle areas and make Mojave Trails a less-restrictive special management area instead of a monument.
Cook hinted that he would try to undermine the monument designations, saying they could be pre-empted by legislation passed by Congress. “There are some significant local concerns that the president unilaterally expanded the boundaries far beyond even the 1.1 million acres of monuments that were in Senator Feinstein’s bill. Legislation could still address that by adjusting the boundaries,” he said.
Management plans will now be created to determine use in the monuments, which could take three years. They will be formed by the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and National Park Service, depending on who has jurisdiction, with public input, according to the proclamation.
This is a fight that is far from over. The Mojave Trails are a popular off-roading spot, and we feel there will be a fight to regain access to the land. What do you think of this new legislation? Will you fight it? Tell us in the comments below.