That's 1.8 million acres protected for hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, and rock climbing.
President Obama just approved three new national monuments, totaling nearly 1.8 million acres of scenic Southern California desert.
The monuments, which include the Mojave Trails National Monument, Castle Mountains National Monument, and Sand to Snow National Monument, are all in southern California—and they will nearly double the amount of public land the President has protected during his two terms in office.
According to the White House Fact Sheet, the designation “will enhance the region’s economic activity by attracting visitors, increasing tourism, and ensuring public access for hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, rock climbing and other outdoor recreation activities for generations to come.”
By far the largest of the three designated areas, at 1.6 million acres, the Mojave Trails National Monument is home to volcanic spires, dunes, wetlands, Joshua tree woodlands, historic roadways, and petroglyphs. There are also a variety of species including bighorn sheep, tortoises, fringe-toed lizards, and more than 250 types of birds that thrive despite the oppressive heat and scarce rainfall.
Also in the Mojave Desert is Castle Mountains National Monument, which links two mountain ranges and covers nearly 21,000 acres. It's home to numerous Native American archaeological sites as well as golden eagles, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions. The third designation, Sand to Snow National Monument, rises from the floor of the Sonoran Desert to the 11,503-foot peak of Mount San Gorgonio: Southern California’s tallest alpine peak.
Michelle Gross is a Freelance Producer at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @mtothegnyc