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Desert News

Thursday, December 29, 2016

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Every week we scour dozens of sources to bring you the latest environmental news for the Desert Southwest. Click a date above to read that day's edition. Want your news included? Email us.

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February Joy in the Desert!

All photos by Terry Weiner

We have plenty to celebrate on behalf of the desert this month.

New National Monuments

On February 11th, President Obama used the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate three new national monuments in the California desert. The Antiquities Act authorizes presidents to create new national monuments on federal land to protect “objects of historic and scientific interest”.

These three new monuments protect 1.8 million acres of desert! The Mojave Trails National Monument covers 1.6 million acres along a 105-mile stretch of the historic old Highway 66. The Sand to Snow National Monument includes 154,000 acres of federal land between Joshua Tree National Park and the San Bernardino National Forest. The Castle Mountains National Monument encompasses around 21,000 acres with craggy peaks and rare desert grassland habitat between Interstates 15 and 40, about 10 miles from the Nevada Border.

National Monument status will protect these areas from industrial renewable energy development and will protect some wildlife linkages extending from the eastern Mojave high desert down to the low Sonoran desert in the Coachella Valley. The new monuments come without funding though, so we will have to work with our congressional representatives to procure money for managing these areas.


It is mid-February and already a profusion of wildflowers is covering the washes and gravelly hillsides below sea level in Death Valley National Park. In October 2015, there were two ‘rain events’, one of which flooded the valley with 3.2 inches of rain (the usual rainfall for an entire season). The lovely wet season, with additional rain in December, has brought about what may be a wildflower season as astounding as the record-breaking bloom of 2005. If you are able to make a trip to Death Valley within the next month or six weeks, you will be treated to one of the desert’s most spectacular displays.

These are photos taken February 14th – 15th from the lowest elevations of Badwater Road, the Ashford Mill area, Warm Springs Road, and West Side Road in Death Valley National Park.

                                                All photos by Terry Weiner