Passage of Great American Outdoors Act provides new impetus for California desert

For immediate release

Joshua Tree – The California desert will be able to access vital funding thanks to the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act on Wednesday. The Act will help address the deteriorating infrastructure in our national parks, increase funding for the conservation of the desert’s vast public lands, and improve public access.

The Great American Outdoors Act was passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. It is a rare piece of bipartisan legislation that has broad appeal on many levels. It now heads to President Trump, who has said he will sign it.

Visitors come from around the world to experience the California desert’s natural, cultural, and scenic wonders. After decades of financial neglect, the Act will begin to address the aging infrastructure and substandard facilities in our desert’s national parks and lands managed by other federal agencies.

This Act simultaneously provides permanent and full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), America’s most important tool for the conservation of public lands and public access. During its 55-year existence, the LWCF has had over $55 billion of funds intended for these needs diverted to other uses.

Funding will come from revenue generated by energy projects on public lands. It will enable national parks and other federal agencies with funds to acquire and protect important conservation lands. National parks and other public lands protect the country’s rich natural and cultural history. But the existence of private inholdings within them leaves the door open for inappropriate development and activities which can impact these treasured areas.

Preserving our public lands is central to our mission. The Mojave Desert Land Trust acquires private inholdings and conveys them to federal agencies so that wildlife habitat and important cultural sites are protected and public access is secured. To date, we have conveyed over 46,000 acres to our federal partners and have conveyed more tracts of land to the National Park Service than any nonprofit nationally since 2006. This was primarily made possible by the LWCF.

Property owned by the Mojave Desert Land Trust and conveyed to Death Valley National Park using the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

More broadly speaking, these funds will prevent damaging development, address the effects of climate change, protect wildlife corridors, preserve air and water quality and quantity, sustain rural economies, and provide recreational access for all Americans.

“The efforts to make the LWCF and its annual appropriation permanent have been ongoing for over a decade. The Great American Outdoors Act appeared on the political horizon just when we needed it most. During these turbulent times, the American public needs places to restore their spirits, connect to nature, and recreate. Our public lands provide this. We are grateful to see this bipartisan effort to preserve our public lands and thank the bill’s sponsors and many co-sponsors”, said Geary Hund, Executive Director, Mojave Desert Land Trust.

The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission to protect and care for lands with natural, scenic, and cultural value within the Mojave Desert. Since its founding in 2006 the land trust has conserved nearly 90,000 acres, donating more tracts of land to the National Park Service in the last decade than any other organization. In addition to acquiring land, the land trust established a seed bank to ensure the preservation of native species. MDLT operates an onsite nursery at its Joshua Tree headquarters which propagates native species for ecosystem restoration. MDLT educates and advocates for the conservation of the desert, involving hundreds of volunteers in our work. For more information, visit mdlt.org.

Contact: Jessica Dacey, Director of Communications

Phone: (760) 820 2275

Email: jessica@mdlt.org