Press Releases

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today commemorated the 20-year anniversary of the California Desert Protection Act and signaled her intention to introduce an updated bill next year.

The California Desert Protection Act—introduced by Senator Feinstein in January 1993 and signed into law by President Clinton on October 31, 1994—established the Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks and the Mojave National Preserve and protects more than 7.6 million acres of California desert wilderness.

“To me, the California desert is stunning mountain views, iconic endangered species like the bighorn sheep and desert tortoises, striking vegetation like the Joshua trees and spring wildflowers and historic tribal cultural resources—the California desert is a true American treasure,” Feinstein said. “This law, which turns 20 years old on Friday, is one of my proudest accomplishments in the Senate.”

Additional desert legislation

Senator Feinstein will speak at the 20th anniversary celebration on November 6, hosted by The Wildlands Conservancy at the Whitewater Preserve near Palm Springs, Calif. In her remarks, she will renew her call for additional legislation to protect California’s majestic desert landscapes and balance the many uses of public lands.

Stakeholders are currently discussing what provisions will be included in that bill, which is expected to be introduced in January. Provisions being discussed include:

  • Creation of two new monuments to protect the most pristine desert land;
  • Designation of additional land as protected wilderness;
  • Permanent designation of four off-road areas as recreational sites; and
  • Revenue sharing to help state and local governments benefit from public use of these lands.

“The 1994 law was a great first step, but there is broad consensus that more needs to be done. I plan to introduce an updated bill in the new Congress that will balance the needs of this land, protecting the most fragile regions, setting aside other land for recreation use and allowing the state and local communities to benefit from this bill,” Feinstein added. “I look forward to introducing this bill in January.”