August 10, 2014

California Desert Protection Act turns 20, celebrations planned

“Queen Valley” by Yucca Valley photographer Mike Fagan. (Courtesy Joshua Tree National Park Council for the Arts)

By Joe Nelson
San Bernardino Sun

The Joshua Tree National Park Council for the Arts, in cooperation with Death Valley National Park and the Mojave National Preserve, will be sponsoring a series of events this fall in celebration of the 20-year anniversary of the California Desert Protection Act, which expanded protection of California desert land by 8.6 million acres.

Events are planned from Oct. 31 through Nov. 15 from the Coachella Valley to Death Valley.

The Council for the Arts has launched a website,, which includes a calendar of planned events that will updated regularly and a link to the summary and text of the California Desert Protection Act.

Adopted on Oct. 31, 1994, the California Desert Protection Act established the Mojave National Preserve and designated Joshua Tree and Death Valley national monuments as state [sic] parks while also expanding their footprint. It also established 69 wilderness areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Feinstein said in a statement Friday that the California Desert Protection Act has allowed millions of Americans to enjoy 7 million acres of pristine California desert.

“Since that bill passed 20 years ago, I remain absolutely convinced that preserving this pristine desert land is the right thing to do,” Feinstein said. “That’s why I will soon introduce new legislation that will protect lands donated to the federal government by creating a new national monument while allowing recreation and renewable energy development to occur in other desert lands where it is more appropriate.”

She said there are not many spaces that are as pristine, as beautiful and worthy of protection than the California desert.

“I’m proud to have a wide array of allies in this pursuit, and I am eager to continue my work to preserve this land,” Feinstein said.

The Council for the Arts is working with the city of Twentynine Palms, the town of Yucca Valley and the unincorporated Joshua Tree and Morongo Valley to promote events to be held in mid-November that include a Desert Dinner featuring local elected officials and the national park’s new superintendent, a mural unveiling in Twentynine Palms, wilderness walks and hikes at Joshua Tree National Park and art exhibits, said Vickie Waite, executive director of the Joshua Tree National Park Council for the Arts.

Waite encourages local organizations and members of the community to get involved by contacting her via email at

In Ridgecrest near Death Valley, visitors can experience the first ever Ridgecrest Petroglyph and Heritage Festival in November, which will highlight American Indian rock art in desert mountains and the Indian Wells Valley, said Doug Lueck, executive director of the Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.