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Keeping the West Wild


Monday, September 27, 2010   

LOS ANGELES - Wilderness Week begins today with a show of force in the nation's capital. A group of Californians committed to keeping the West wild is joining organizations from 15 other states to meet with decision-makers on Capitol Hill.

Laurel Williams with the California Wilderness Association is talking up the positives she sees in the pending California Desert Protection Act.

"We're really excited that it would preserve about 300,000 acres of the California desert as wilderness and they're really the last wild places left out there."

Williams says the California Desert Protection Act is not just a wilderness bill: it's also good for eco-tourism.

"It's going to protect our landscape that people come from all over the world to visit and kind of keeps the eco-tourism engine driving. Now, in this economy, it's more important than ever that we keep areas protected that people spend their money to come and see."

She says California's deserts see about 6.7 million visitors each year, who end up spending around $230 million annually.

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California is sponsoring the bill. Besides the new wilderness designation, it would also expand protection for more than one million acres of other desert lands, including Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks, and the Mojave National Preserve. Two new national monuments would also be created: the Mojave Trails and the Sand to Snow, which is 45 miles east of Riverside.

More information can be found at www.calwild.org

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