Senator Feinstein to introduce bills for 2 new national monuments in Mojave Desert

Mojave Trails National Monument would protect 941,000 acres of public land. 314,000 acres of existing ORV areas would also be protected-

The article says environmentalists, hunters, and off-roaders support the legislation. Part of these areas had been targeted for big solar power developments.

The total list is: Mojave Trails NM, 941,000 acres; Sand to Snow National Monument, 134,000 acres; 250,000 acres near Ft Irwin as Wilderness; 41,000 acres to the southern boundary of Death Valley National Park; 2,900 acres to northern portions of Joshua Tree National Park.

Story on Feinstein’s bill. By Louis Sahagun. LA Times.

Update 12-22-09

A more detailed article on the politics and economics of the bills. Desert Vistas vs. Solar Power. By Tom Woody.  New York Times.

I think Feinstein’s bill is very good in directing solar farms into appropriate locations. Without her kind of “NIMBYism,” developers of big projects will just naturally gravitate toward pristine public lands because it makes their land-intensive projects cheaper by means of an indirect subsidy. Now they are more likely to seek out sunny derelict lands already destroyed by cattle or some other passing harmful use.



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  1. mikepost Avatar

    Solar projects are being fought all over California by any means available. This has a big NIMBY watermark all over it and will only help keep coal fired power plants in the Great Basin chugging away.

    314,000 acres preserved for unsmogged heavily polluting off road vehicles…what could be better…

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    As the article indicates this might direct the solar power interests to plan their construction into areas that have been degraded by cattle and unsustainable desert agriculture. If it allows these companies to rethink their plans so to have less of an environmental impact, I don’t think NIMBY is an especially good description.

  3. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    The Army keeps trying to expand their boundries of Ft Erwin. I would hope that wilderness will slow that expansion down.

    Everyone complains about ORV damage, But has anyone seen what a dozen tanks can do? It makes ORVs look like childs play!


  4. mikepost Avatar

    Rick, I sympathize with your position but the bottom line in California is that some of the finest country we have has only been preserved because the military held it. Fort Ord, Camp Pendleton, Hunter-Ligget, Concord Naval Weapons Station, etc etc would all be developed. I will take a tank over a bulldozer any time. Besides, the military is at least paying some attention to conservation issues on bases that the ORV folks just laugh at. Even back in the 1970’s when I was at Pendleton, there were off-road driving restrictions, a bison preservation program, sensitive habitat closures to all activities, things that have progressed even further today.

    Ralph, those “degraded” and “unsustainable” areas always seem to develop new habitat values once these projects are proposed. Suddenly desert mule deer fawn there, endangered desert tortoises have been discovered, k-rats are seen for the first time in decades, the list is long. The trouble is that those other historic activies don’t trigger EIR requirements that give NIABY outfits like CBD a chance to monkey wrench any use of undeveloped land. (NIABY: Not In Anybodies Back Yard)

  5. Debra K Avatar
    Debra K

    Guess I see a difference between tanks operating (national security interests in training the military) and ORVs (joyriding yahoos out for entertainment).

    The devil is in the details, but I wonder how “permanent” these ORV parks are. If they are statutorily mandated, will they continue regardless of environmental degradation, trespass, etc. that accompany ORV usage?

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    There is a good article in the New York Times today about her bill’s politics and economics. I put a link to it below the main story, plus my opinion.

  7. kt Avatar

    Yes, the New York Times article is very good. It shines a Bright Light on why Bobby Kennedy has been trash-talking the “worthless desert” and promoting development. Because he appears to be heavily invested in Bright Source!

    These giant remote-sited renewable monstrosities and all the transmission lines proposed everywhere ARE going to be the next bubble …

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    kt, I think you have a important insight about the “next bubble.”

    By opposing the poorly thought out and rushed placement of solar and wind farms in remote locations, folks are in fact doing this new industry a favor and the economy as a whole which can stand any more bubbles.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan