Desert Protection Act, passed in 1994, doubled the amount of desert wilderness
protected in California. The Act created Mojave National Preserve, Death Valley,
and Joshua Tree national parks, along with nearly 5 million acres of designated
expansive boundaries, the bill preserves geologic wonders, plant and wildlife
habitats, ancient archeology and modern history, and provides opportunities
for learning and research, recreation, and relaxing.
But even on
these protected lands, serious issues remain. For instance at Mojave National
Preserve, mining is still permitted in places, and managers wrestle with issues
of how to practice low-impact mining. Grazing also continues, and as with
mining, decisions regarding acceptable levels must be made. A radioactive
dump has been proposed for Ward Valley, just west of the Colorado River.
The Salton Sea,
once a body of fresh water, is now 25 percent more salty than the ocean. The
reasons? Agricultural run-off and evaporation. This extremely salty water,
combined with the toxic algae blooms fueled by fertilizer in the run-off,
has killed thousands of fish and migrating water and shore birds.
And water is
always an issue everywhere in the desert.
Our desert lands
are a natural treasure. You can be part of preserving them.
- When you
visit, always travel lightly. Let the desert leave its mark on you, don't
leave your mark on the desert. "Leave no trace," as they say.
- Behind its
rugged face, the desert is fragile and slow to heal.
- Learn more
and get more involved by contacting organizations involved in desert issues.
- Begin at
home by recycling and reusing what might otherwise end up in a desert dump.