President designates three new national monuments
<b>CASTLE MOUNTAINS</b> The area includes about 20,000 rugged acres to conserve a missing piece in the northern part of the Mojave National Preserve, almost to the Nevada border. The Castle Mountains encompass native desert grasslands once inhabited by pronghorn, the only antelope-type animal in North America. They also provide habitat for golden eagles and include some of the finest Joshua tree, pinyon pine and juniper forests in the California desert and the remnants of Hart, a Gold Rush ghost town. The area features stunning vistas of the rocky California and Nevada desert mountain ranges, including Nevada’s Spirit Mountain, which is revered by southwestern Native American tribes and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. <b>Photo: </b>The Castle Mountains, foreground, have Joshua Tree-covered grasslands that were once home to pronghorn, the second fastest land mammal in the world after the cheetah. (Kurt Miller, Staff Photographer) riv.merlinone.net
<b>SAND TO SNOW </b> The proposed 135,000-acre Sand to Snow National Monument rises from the desert floor in the Coachella Valley to Mount San Gorgonio, Southern California's tallest peak. National Monument status preserves wildlife corridors between the San Bernardino Mountains, San Jacinto Mountains and Joshua Tree National Park. Sand to Snow protects one of the country’s most diverse landscapes, which includes alpine peaks, conifer forests, pinyon forests, Joshua tree woodlands, mountain rivers and desert wetlands, coastal chaparral, Mohave and Sonoran Desert landscapes. The monument includes 25 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail and preserve Black Lava Butte and Flat Top Mesa with their 1,700 petroglyphs and other Native American cultural sites. The headwaters of the Whitewater River and Santa Ana River – southern California’s longest river – run through this area. The wetlands and oases in the Sand to Snow National Monument are vital habitat for more than 240 types of migrating birds, including yellow chat and vermilion flycatchers. <b>Photo: </b>Part of the Little San Bernardino Mountains, which separate Coachella Valley from Morongo Basin, become part of the Sand to Snow National Monument. (Kurt Miller, Staff Photographer) riv.merlinone.net
<b>Mojave Trails </b> The Mojave Trails National Monument will preserve about 1 million acres of public lands and protect major wildlife and recreational corridors between Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve, plus additional acreage in Bristol Dry Lake, Cadiz Valley and Sacramento Mountains. Included within the monument will be the largest in-tact section of Route 66, part of the Bigelow Cholla Garden Wilderness, California's largest cactus garden, extinct volcanoes, prehistoric lava flow areas and fossil beds. It is home to desert tortoise, bighorn sheep and fringe-toed lizards. <b>Photo: </b>The painted hills of Afton Canyon are part of the Mojave Trails National Monument. (Jack Thompson, The Wildlands Conservancy) riv.merlinone.net