MOJAVE TRAILS NATIONAL MONUMENT
Fifteen years ago, The Wildlands Conservancy made the largest conservation land gift in American history when it donated some 560,000 acres in the Mojave Desert to the U.S. Department of Interior. More than 100,000 acres of these gifted lands were private inholdings in Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park; another 200,000 acres were inholdings in twenty federally-designated Wilderness Areas. The majority of the remaining donated lands provide a landscape linkage connecting Mojave National Preserve, Joshua Tree National Park, and fourteen Wilderness Areas located in the heart of the Mojave Desert.
PROTECTED IN PERPETUITY
Seven years ago, The Wildlands Conservancy, in partnership with desert champion U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, proposed that this land be protected as the 941,000-acre Mojave Trails National Monument, a name honoring Native American Trails, the historic Mojave Road and historic Route 66—internationally known as The Mother Road.
After several attempts to establish Mojave Trails National Monument through legislation, Senator Feinstein, the California Desert's unwaivering champion, courageously called upon President Barack Obama to create the monuments by way of an Antiquities Act designation.
On Friday, February 12, 2016, President Obama designated Mojave Trails National Monument by executive order. The Wildlands Conservancy, its supporters and partners, and Californians celebrate this historic designation and the continued preservation of the heart of the Mojave Desert.
“This is the pinnacle of a fifteen-year effort to preserve the physical heart of the Mojave Desert for conservation, recreation, and unparalleled inspiration, a milestone in our fifteen-year quest to preserve the heart of the Mojave Desert.” - David Myers, Executive Director, The Wildlands Conservancy.
THE NATIONAL TREASURES AT THE HEART OF THE MOJAVE DESERT
A vast array of national treasures are protected by the Mojave Trails National Monument. These treasures include:
- A portion of California's largest cactus garden;
- Pisgah Lava Flow—the most researched area in North America for the effects of volcanism on evolution;
- Amboy Crater—a National Natural Landmark;
- Sleeping Beauty Valley—the last intact valley representing the West Mojave plant associations;
- Cady Mountains—one of the best areas in the Mojave to see bighorn sheep;
- Afton Canyon—the Mojave River flows year-round amid colorful canyon walls;
- Marble Mountains Fossil Beds—site of 550 million-year-old fossils of trilobites, which were among the first animals on earth with eyes and skeletons;
- Wildlife and recreational corridors that connect two national parks and 13 wilderness areas—a refuge for campers and explorers, bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, and fringe-toed lizards.
The Monument preserves the most pristine, undeveloped remaining stretch of historic Route 66, the Mother Road, which is arguably the most famous highway in America—perhaps in the world. Created in 1926 as part of the nation's first system of federal highways, Route 66 became popular as the shortest, best-weather route across the country. Linking Chicago to Santa Monica, it helped transform America into the automobile-oriented society it is today. Through literature (John Steinbeck), film, television and song, it became an international icon. In 2008, the World Monuments Fund designated Route 66, along with such world heritage sites as Machu Picchu and Shanghai, as a threatened resource on their Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites. The March 2009 Smithsonian Magazine recognizes Route 66 as one of the "15 Must-See Endangered Cultural Treasures."
DISCOVER MOJAVE TRAILS
Explore the interactive story map to learn more about the heart of the Mojave National Monument holds.
See the heart of the Mojave Desert from a birds-eye view.
THE NATIONAL MONUMENTS CAMPAIGN
Read about the National Monuments Campaign and how TWC and its supporters and partners helped to make history.
TWC'S CALIFORNIA DESERT LAND ACQUITION PROJECT
Learn more about The Wildlands Conservancy's California Desert Acquisition Project and how it led to the making of a Monument.