Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), author of the 1994 California Desert Protection Act, today introduced legislation that will set aside new lands in the Mojave Desert for conservation, recreation, and other purposes.

The “California Desert Protection Act of 2011” was drafted in close cooperation with stakeholders throughout Southern California.

“Conservation and renewable energy development can exist hand in hand, and that’s what my legislation will do,” Senator Feinstein said. “With this bill, I believe we’ve found the right balance between interests that were previously set against each other.

We know that we must do more to advance renewable energy, but we must also be careful where we decide to permit these projects. I strongly believe that we should not permit the development of land that was donated to the federal government or acquired with taxpayer funds for conservation.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee prefers to move energy-related legislation separately from land conservation legislation. Therefore, I plan to work with senators from Western states on a bill to improve the renewable energy permitting process to allow quicker development of renewable energy projects on private and disturbed public land.”

Bill highlights:

  • Create the Mojave Trails National Monument, protecting 941,000 acres of federal land. 
  • Create the Sand to Snow National Monument, encompassing 134,000 acres of federal land.
  • Add adjacent lands to Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park, and the Mojave National Preserve. 
  • Protect nearly 76 miles of four important waterways. 
  • Designate five new wilderness areas. 
  • Designate approximately 250,000 acres of BLM wilderness areas near Fort Irwin.
  • Enhance recreational opportunities while ensuring training needs of the military have been met. 
  • Designate four existing off-highway vehicle areas in the California desert as permanent.

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