President Obama Protects 1.8 Million Acres, Home to Millions of Birds
Prairie Falcon. Photo: Peter Knoot/Audubon Photography Awards
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.–(ENEWSPF)–February 12, 2016. Millions of California birds will be among the beneficiaries of three new national monuments created by executive order today. At the request of US Senator Dianne Feinstein, President Barack Obama carved out three areas totaling approximately 1.8 million acres for monument status, linking the San Bernardino National Forest to Joshua Tree National Park, and wrapping around the Mojave National Preserve to the Nevada border.
“Some areas are too important to develop, and these areas of the California desert – home to more than 250 species of birds – are among them,” said President and CEO of the National Audubon Society David Yarnold. “Since Congress won’t act to protect this natural treasure, it’s up to President Obama to keep safe the places these birds call home.”
Six years ago, Feinstein introduced the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act, which would designate these three areas as national monuments. But recently, as her legislation became mired in Congress, she reportedly asked Obama to use his power under the Antiquities Act to designate the three desert monuments, bypassing Congress.
“California’s deserts are natural treasures right alongside our beaches and mountains, full of remarkable vistas, birds and other wildlife,” said Audubon California Executive Director Brigid McCormack. “These desert habitats are worth fighting for – and I want to thank Senator Feinstein for her tireless advocacy on behalf of California deserts, and the President for recognizing that they need to be protected.”
Habitats within these new monuments range from coniferous to riverine forest to desert scrub and host a multitude of migratory and breeding birds. Many unique and rare bird species have adapted to survive in this desert ecosystem and can be found nowhere else. Riverine habitats provide nesting grounds for the rare Least Bell’s Vireo and other songbirds and provide a vital migration corridor to feed and rest during their journeys through this arid landscape from Mexico to points north.
Desert specialty species, such as the Elf Owl, are found breeding in unique desert woodlands of the valley floors in the Mojave. Golden Eagles and Prairie Falcons breed in the canyons and cliffs within the mountainous landscapes. Swainson’s Hawks, migrating from South America, use this region as a critical corridor during their annual spring migration. Birders are attracted from around the world to many hotspots within these monuments to observe rare desert-dwelling birds and witness spectacular spring migrations.
The three new monuments will be the Sand to Snow National Monument, the Mojave Trails National Monument and the Castle Mountain National Monument.
More information is available at www.ca.audubon.org.
The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.
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