The administration in April took two major steps that threaten the Preserve and surrounding desert habitat. In early April the Department of Interior removed a Federal directive that would have required more extensive environmental review of the Cadiz company's plans to pump billions of gallons of groundwater from the desert and send it to customers in Orange County. And on April 26 the President signed an Executive Order directing Interior to review national monuments established over the past two decades - including nearby Mojave Trails National Monument - with the intent of reducing protections for these special places. The Conservancy has spoken up against both and will work with our partners to fight developments that undermine the Preserve and neighboring wildlands.
Cadiz Threatens Natural Springs
The Cadiz company wants to pump as much as 16 billion gallons a year from private property parcels near the Preserve and send that water via pipeline and aqueduct to Orange County. The problem is that the groundwater basin from which Cadiz would pump spans across hundreds of square miles, including parts of the Preserve and Mojave Trails National Monument. And studies show that the Cadiz project could pump more water from the aquifer than would be replaced by scant desert rainfall. That means that the groundwater levels probably will decline, and natural springs in the Mojave that wildlife depend upon for water will dry up. The Conservancy will continue to oppose this reckless approach toward groundwater in the Mojave and advocate on behalf of the Preserve and its wildlife.
Administration Targets Nearby Monuments
The Mojave National Preserve Conservancy in April called on Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke and President Trump to leave national monuments intact following the President's controversial Executive Order. Any steps to undermine protections for wildlands surrounding the Preserve, including within Mojave Trails National Monument established in 2015 by President Obama, can erode habitat and connectivity that wildlife within the Preserve need to thrive. Mojave Trails, like the Preserve itself, protects a spectacular landscape that offers all of us a chance to experience our natural and cultural heritage. It encompasses the longest undeveloped stretch of Historic Route 66, significant habitat for desert wildlife that roam between the monument and the Preserve, and opportunities to camp and hike in solitude. As urban sprawl, energy development, and climate change threaten our remaining wildlands, protections for public lands are even more important.
The Mojave National Preserve Conservancy joined nearly 450 other organizations in a letter to the administration defending our monuments and protections for public lands.