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Proposed Expansions to Joshua Tree, Death Valley National Parks

If you've ever had the pleasure of driving through Joshua Tree or Death Valley National Parks, there's a sense that the landscape in front of you is never-ending. But if a new piece of legislation is approved, the land is set to become even more never-ending.

On February 9th, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer introduced the California Desert Convservation and Recreation Act of 2015 into legislation. If passed, the bill would have a dramatic impact on the conservation of the California desert. The details:

- 4,500 acres added to Joshua Tree National Park;
- 39,000 acres added to Death Valley National Park;
- 22,000 acres added to the Mojave National Preserve;
- Six new Bureau of Land Management wilderness areas, covering a total of 250,000 acres, will be established;
- Creation of the Mojave Trails National Monument, covering 965,000 acres of land;
- Creation of the Sand to Snow National Monument, covering 135,000 acres of land from the Coachella Valley (sand) to the peak of Mount San Gorgonio (snow).

In addition to the additional acreage and monuments, the bill proposes a number of changes to renewable energy harvest in the region, with new rules detailing how the federal government will establish solar zones, as well as how future transmission lines will transport clean energy without damaging the wilderness. It's a big deal, is the point.

No word yet on when, or even if, the bill will move out of committee.

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