CA Desert Dwellers Make Pitch To President Obama
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
LOS ANGELES - Desert-dwellers are making a pitch to President Obama as his "America's Great Outdoors Initiative" listening tour stops in the Golden State this week. They want to stress that the desert has much more to offer than what most people see from their car windows.
Monica Argandona, Southern California Conservation Director for the California Wilderness Coalition, says many people mistakenly think of the desert as a big wasteland.
"And that's not true. I mean, it is full of cultural resources; it's a very fragile, important ecosystem. If anybody gets off that highway and hikes in, even a little bit - the vistas, the solitude - there's so much to offer in the desert."
While the country looks to expand renewable energy sources, Argandona believes it is important that policymakers don't just pave the desert in solar panels.
"While we totally support renewable energy and know how important it is, that whole siting process has to be done in a very methodical, commonsense way and we can't just throw away our desert."
Conservationists are pushing for Congress to pass Sen. Dianne Feinstein's Desert Protection Act (S. 2921), which would preserve nearly 1.5 million acres of Southern California desert and create two new national monuments.
As part of the president's initiative, administration officials are traveling the country, asking people which scenic areas should be preserved using federal money. A public listening session takes place at Occidental College in Los Angeles on Thursday.
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