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Feds Declare Sand to Snow National Monument Safe

Sand to Snow National Monument was created alongside two other desert monuments in 2016 by President Barack Obama. (Bureau of Land Mgmt.)
Sand to Snow National Monument was created alongside two other desert monuments in 2016 by President Barack Obama. (Bureau of Land Mgmt.)
August 17, 2017

JOSHUA TREE, Calif. -- Sand to Snow National Monument in the southern California desert will not be reduced or rescinded, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced on Wednesday.

Six other national monuments in California and dozens of others around the country remain in the crosshairs - until Zinke's final recommendations are made public on August 24.

Daniel Rossman, acting state director for The Wilderness Society, said he's glad Sand to Snow was spared, and hopes to see the same result for places such as the Berryessa Snow Mountain, Mojave Trails, Giant Sequoia, San Gabriel Mountains, Carrizo Plain and Cascade-Siskiyou national monuments.

"There have been more than 2.7 million comments put into this process for preserving the status of our national monuments,” Rossman said. "It seems arbitrary that the Secretary is releasing monuments here and there, and not listening to the overwhelming will of the American public."

Danielle Segura, executive director of the Mojave Desert Land Trust, said she wants to see Mojave Trails protected. But she said its fate is in question because Zinke's number two at the Department of the Interior is a former lobbyist for a company that wants to drain water from the desert aquifer and send it to coastal cities.

"I think that we have reasons to be worried about that. We would like to see the desert as a place not to extract resources, but to allow for a vibrant tourism economy,” Segura said.

State Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, who represents the area near Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, said she consulted with local groups for many years before President Barack Obama designated the monument in 2016.

"I worked with cattle ranchers, farmers, horseback associations, off-road vehicle associations, The Wilderness Society, the Sierra Club. We worked with everyone to make sure we had ample public outreach, that people understood what the importance is to save this beautiful area,” Aguilar-Curry said.

President Donald Trump had called for the review of the monuments to establish the smallest boundaries consistent with the protection of natural treasures.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA