This Land is your land

National monuments are important places for preserving our national treasures, but the public should also have access to these lands. Under the 1906 Antiquities Act, the government has now acquired 5.7 million acres of land and nearly 550 million acres of water designated as monuments.

Considered by some to be a massive federal land grab, President Trump signed an executive order in April 2017 to review these areas. He argued that locking up this much land is an “abusive practice” by the government.

In these areas, people are not free to enjoy their favorite pastimes. Whether it’s hiking, camping or viewing wildlife, the desert needs to be accessible to everyone. Rep. Paul Cook suggests providing more access to a southern portion of the Mojave Desert monument that spreads across about a third of its 1.6 million acres. By maintaining common sense boundaries, every California community can enjoy this land.

The congressman has taken a stand against policies that would make our federal lands off limits. He has sought balance in federal land protections so that all of us can enjoy the desert while preserving its beauty. In fact, Cook urged Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to leave unchanged the boundaries of Sand to Snow National Monument. Zinke agreed.

“The land of Sand to Snow National Monument is some of the most diverse terrain in the West, and the monument is home to incredible geographic, biologic and archaeological history of our nation,” Zinke said in a statement.

Cook proposes expanding Joshua Tree, Death Valley and the Mojave Preserve by more than 68,000 acre and protecting more than 965,000 acres of desert south of the Mojave National Preserve as the Mojave Trails Special Management Area. Yet, he understands economic needs of the area and the importance of allowing for recreational off-highway vehicle use. By creating the nation’s first system of National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation areas, OHV activity would be conducted in appropriate locations, protecting other lands for conservation purposes.

Southern California Partnership for Jobs thanks Rep. Cook for his efforts with regards to the Mojave Trails. Examining the boundaries of other national monuments could help clear the way for economic growth and employment opportunities, adding numerous jobs to California. Additionally, it would open up the desert and all it offers for all of the public to enjoy.

About Paul Cook

Col. Paul Cook (ret.) was elected to serve in the US House of Representatives in November 2012. He represents California’s 8th Congressional District which includes the high desert communities of San Bernardino County as well as Mono and Inyo counties.

An infantry officer who served with distinction in the United States Marine Corps and a veteran of the Vietnam War, Col. Cook’s military career spanned twenty-six years. His actions in combat earned him a number of honors, including two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star Medal with a V for valor. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1992 as a colonel.