In the culmination of a years-long effort by conservationists, President Trump last week signed into law a significant expansion of protections that will benefit California deserts, as well as the birds and other wildlife that live there.
The California Desert Protection and Recreation Act of 2019, championed by Sen. Dianne
Feinstein, enjoyed broad Congressional support prior to its arrival on Trump’s desk. The legislation will protect about 375,000 acres of wilderness in Southern California. This includes the enlargement of Death Valley National Park and Joshua Tree National Park by 43,000 acres.
The act is being lauded as the biggest conservation bill passed into law in more than a decade.
In all, thirteen Audubon Important Bird Areas in the California deserts (out of 21 total) will see increased protections under the new Act. About 435,000 acres of desert Important Bird Areas will see some kind of improved protection.
Among the Important Bird Areas protected are:
- Argus Range- Southern
- Colorado Desert Microphyll Woodlands
- East Mojave Peaks
- East Mojave Springs
- Imperial Valley
- Kelso Creek
- Lower Colorado River Valley
- North Mojave Dry Lakes
- Owens River
- Owens Lake
- Salton Sea
- Shoshone-Tecopa Area
More than a hundred species of birds will benefit from this action, including Cinnamon Teal,
Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Bell’s Vireo, Rufous Hummingbird, Swainson’s Hawk, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, and Burrowng Owl, among others.