Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

New national monument could add to Great Basin’s scenic spaces

February 8, 2012, 10:42 am

On a quiet swath of land in Morongo Valley, wildflowers, boulders and sky stretch for miles. Water trickles down a hill, coating the pebbles below with moss.

The Little Morongo Canyon area is designated as federal wilderness area, but its designation leaves it vulnerable to competing interests.

Conservationists and a slew of supporters are hoping to change that.

The California Desert Protection Act of 2011, originally introduced by Senator Diane Feinstein in 2009, would designate the Morongo Valley wilderness area and all of Big Morongo Canyon and Whitewater preserves as a 133,524-acre Sand to Snow National Monument, while adding 2,904 acres to Joshua Tree National Park.

The federal act would set aside this land as well as nearly 1.6 million acres of other scenic and critical-wildlife land throughout California.