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5 California National Monuments Are Among 27 Up For Axing

Snow on the Providence Mountains can happen a few times every winter, Mojave National Preserve, Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County, California.
Courtesy of the National Park Service
Snow on the Providence Mountains can happen a few times every winter, Mojave National Preserve, Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County, California.

Five California national monument areas may be axed or downsized by the Trump Administration on Thursday. They are among 27 national monuments established or expanded by presidents since 1996 that Trump in an executive order asked Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review. Here's a quick look at the state's areas that could lose some or all of their protected status.

Mojave Trails National Monument

This huge swath of Mojave Desert north of Joshua Tree National Park is by far the largest of California's six national monuments up for elimination, and also the most recently designated. President Barack Obama gave the status to 1.6 million acres of desert land in February, 2016. it contains ancient lava flows, spectacular sand dunes, ancient Native American trading routes and World War II-era training camps. It also contains the largest remaining undeveloped stretch of historic Route 66.


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San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

The 346,000-acre mountain area is some of the nation's most visited wilderness. More than 15 million people live within a 90-minute drive of the mountains northeast of Los Angeles. It was designated by Obama in person in October, 2014 and came in a wave of similar moves by the president, who would use national-monument status to protect millions of acres of public lands around the country in his last years in office. The move brought criticism from California Congressmen and others who said the president was overstepping his authority.

Giant Sequoia National Monument

President Bill Clinton created this national monument in 2000, setting aside 328,000 acres of land in Tulare County where the giant sequoia grows naturally. The move added to the areas already safeguarded in Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite national parks. The decision was praised by environmentalists but scorned by loggers. In announcing his decision, Clinton marveled at the resilience of a partially charred tree that had been struck by lightning decades ago. "Look how deep the burn goes," he said. "These giant sequoias clearly are the work of the ages. They grow taller than the Statue of Liberty, broader than a bus."


Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument

This area 50 miles west of Sacramento was given national monument status by Obama just over two years ago. The monument, consisting of 330,000 acres of public lands, extends from Berryessa Peak and other areas in Napa, Yolo, and Solano counties through Lake, Colusa, and Glenn counties to the eastern boundary of the Yuki Wilderness in Mendocino County. It is home to threatened and endangered plant and wildlife species including northern spotted owls.

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Carrizo Plain National Monument

Far less visited is this area in San Luis Obispo County, which is known for its remoteness and silence. The national monument created by Clinton in 2001 consists of 204,000 acres of grasslands between San Luis Obispo and Bakersfield. It includes Painted Rock, a horseshoe-shaped sandstone monolith with red ocher etchings of horned figures and geometric shapes drawn by American Indians.

Tommy Hough, president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action, said that if this protected land is removed, other monuments could be targeted .

“The precedent that could be set here is terrible, and it doesn’t just potentially affect Cabrillo National Monument,” Hough said. “These are some of the most special places in the U.S., these have been identified in some cases decades ago, to be preserved as is.”