Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today commended Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s decision to leave Sand and Snow National Monument untouched and called on him to preserve the boundaries for California’s six other national monuments under review by the administration.
“I once again commend you for your recommendation regarding Sand to Snow and respectfully request that the remaining six California national monument designations are preserved with their present boundaries to ensure these special places remain for generations to come,” Senator Feinstein wrote. “I encourage you to visit these remarkable places and witness firsthand their inspirational beauty and significance to our nation.”
Full text of the letter follows:
August 17, 2017
The Honorable Ryan K. Zinke
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240
Dear Secretary Zinke:
Thank you for your August 9th letter acknowledging my support for California’s National Monuments. I write to commend your decision to recommend to President Trump that no changes be made to Sand to Snow National Monument, pursuant to the Department of Interior’s ongoing review of National Monuments per Executive Order 13792. In addition, I strongly urge you to recommend that the remaining six National Monument designations in California, especially Mojave Trails, stay intact.
As you know, President Trump’s recently issued Executive Order 13792 requires the Interior Department to review all National Monuments designated under the Antiquities Act since 1996. After your recommendation of no changes on Sand to Snow, the remaining California monuments under review are:
- Mojave Trails;
- Cascade Siskiyou;
- Berryessa Snow Mountain;
- San Gabriel Mountains;
- Carrizo Plain; and
- Giant Sequoia.
I understand that some of my House colleagues requested, via letter, that you recommend removing the southern portion of the Mojave Trails National Monument from being designated as a federal monument. I strongly oppose any California designated monuments, including the Mojave Trails National Monument, from being eliminated or altered. I can only construe that this request is motivated, in large part, to facilitate a destructive water extraction project proposal by Cadiz, Inc., which I have written to you about on prior occasions. As I understand it, the section you have been requested to remove from Mojave Trails National Monument encompasses lands adjacent to the southern boundary of the Cadiz, Inc. property and includes the Arizona – California Railroad, where Cadiz is seeking to build a water pipeline.
Should this water extraction proposal move forward, the majestic California desert landscape, nationally recognized and designated as a national monument for its scientific, geologic, and cultural significance, would be destroyed. The Cadiz, Fenner, and Bristol aquifers underlying the Mojave Trails National Monument provide life-sustaining water to species unique to the California Desert, like the tortoise, big horn sheep, fringe-toed lizard, and numerous rare cacti and plants.
The southern portion of the Mojave Trails National Monument includes an array of significant areas for wildlife, breathtaking vistas, geologic formations, as well as historic WW II training grounds. Some of the highlights include:
- Lands used by General Patton’s Armored Divisions during World War II for desert warfare training, including the Iron Mountain and Granite training camps. Iron Mountain contains hand laid rock insignias of the battalions that were stationed there, a relief map used for training operations;
- A key wildlife corridor between Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve critical for species like desert tortoise and big horn sheep;
- Unique Aeolian dune features;
- Two chapels;
- The Ship and Iron Mountains, which before protected by the National monument designation, comprised the largest unprotected road-less area in California; and
- The Sheephole Pass, a scenically stunning area recently voted as an official “gateway” to Mojave Trails, which welcomes people from the 29 Palms area.
That is why in my August 3, 2015, letter to President Obama, which requested consideration of Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains for Antiquities Act designation, I requested the Cadiz Valley, now encompassed in the southern portion of Mojave Trails National Monument, also be included in Mojave Trails. The letter is attached for your reference.
All three desert monument proposals were the subject of a public meeting held on October 13, 2015, in Whitewater, California and attended by 1,000 people. The proposals were developed over the course of many years and after hundreds of meetings, with my staff, state and local officials, tribes, off-highway recreation advocates, local and national conservation organizations, California's public utilities, renewable energy companies, hunters, ranchers, mining interests, local businesses and community members.
These desert monuments enjoy overwhelming public support. A poll published in advance of President Obama’s 2015 Antiquities Act designation found that 75 percent of Californians statewide and 70 percent in the desert region supported establishing the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains National Monuments. Additionally, a 2015 report by the nonpartisan Sonoran Institute found that much of the economic growth in California’s desert region over the past four decades was attributable to “businesses and demographic changes that benefit directly from preserving the desert.” The Sonoran Institute report also found that designating the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains National Monuments was likely the “highest and best economic use of those public lands,” while also wholly “compatible with ongoing mining activities and…future development of critical and competitive mineral resources.”
I once again commend you for your recommendation regarding Sand to Snow and respectfully request that the remaining six California national monument designations are preserved with their present boundaries to ensure these special places remain for generations to come. I encourage you to visit these remarkable places and witness firsthand their inspirational beauty and significance to our nation.
Please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss California’s national monuments further. Thank you for once again considering my views.
Enclosure: August 3, 2015 Feinstein to Obama re: monument designation request