February 12, 2021
It’s Been Five Years and These SoCal National Monuments Are Still Standing
On February 12, 2016—five years ago today—fellow left-hander Barack Obama picked up his pen and created three new national monuments and protected 1.8 million acres of land that belong to you and me. Those three monuments are Castle Mountains, Mojave Trails, and Sand to Snow, and across Southern California, as best they can in these covid days, people are celebrating the anniversary.
Mojave Trails is the largest of the three. Spanning 1.6 million acres, more than 350,000 acres of previously congressionally-designated Wilderness, MTNM is comprised of a mosaic of rugged mountain ranges, ancient lava flows, and spectacular sand dunes. It protects Native American trading routes, World War II-era training camps, and the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of Route 66. Castle Mountains is just 20,920 acres, but it’s a critical wildlife connection between two mountain ranges, protecting water resources, plants, and critters such as golden eagles, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and bobcats. Sand to Snow is 154,000 acres, including just over 100,000 acres of Wilderness, and it encompasses SoCal’s tallest peak (yes, there’s bc skiing here) and a whole lot more.
The monuments survived the four years of Sauron’s administration without reduction, thankfully, but threats remain, including groundwater pumping, development encroachment, climate change and more. The fight for conservation never ends.