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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has announced her intention to introduce new legislation to establish a national monument to preserve thousands of acres in the Mojave Desert. The former Catellus lands were previously donated to or by purchased by the Department of the Interior for conservation.

The Bureau of Land Management is currently reviewing 130 applications for solar and wind energy development in the California desert, covering more than 1 million acres of public land. Several of these applications are located in the eastern Mojave Desert on or near property previously owned by Catellus. The California Energy Commission has estimated that approximately 100,000 to 160,000 acres of desert lands would be needed for the state to meet its 33% renewable energy goal by 2020.

"So, I intend to introduce new legislation to protect hundreds of thousands of acres of these former railroad lands through a national monument designation," says Feinstein. "This would provide lasting protection for these lands and prevent development, while allowing existing uses to continue. I also intend to work with local stakeholders to determine whether other local desert lands may be suitable for federal protection at this time."

The national monument designation would ensure that hundreds of thousands of acres between Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve are protected in perpetuity. Large-scale development would be prohibited within the monument in order to protect the biological and aesthetic integrity of the region and guarantee public access for hunting, hiking, camping and exploring scenic back roads.

SOURCE: Office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein

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