Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California.

Daniel Schreurs | Dreamstime.com

Trump Could Approve Expanding California National Parks And Wilderness

Jenna Lane
March 07, 2019 - 11:58 am

A bill awaiting President Trump's approval would vastly expand wilderness areas in California and across the West and its bipartisan supporters believe he will sign it.

The million-plus acres cover federal land in California, Oregon, Utah and New Mexico. California deserts, in particular, would be protected. The boundaries of Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks and the Mojave National Preserve would be expanded, and off-road access preserved in carefully selected areas.

Looking for oil, building roads and mining would be among the activities banned across 375,000 acres of the Mojave Desert. Off-roading access would be guaranteed on more than 200,000 acres of desert.

KCBS and San Francisco Chronicle Outdoors Editor Tom Stienstra hopes President Trump will sign the bill.

"It expands the boundaries of Death Valley, Mojave and Joshua Tree national parks, and it gives more land to Anza Borrego Desert State Park as well,” Stienstra said. “This is really critical. A lot of people may not understand this. The desert is very fragile down there."

In all, the bill would designate more than a million acres of the West as wilderness — a significant measure of protection — and some 600 miles of rivers as wild and scenic.

President Trump has about 10 days left to sign the bill, named for the late Michigan Congressman John Dingell and championed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.).

“From desert tortoises to bighorn sheep, breathtaking wildflower blooms to iconic Joshua trees, the beauty of the California desert is unrivaled,” Feinstein said in a statement. “It’s a defining part of California’s landscape, and I’m proud of our work to ensure it remains that way for future generations to enjoy.”