(Greater Palm Springs, CA) – June 8, 2016 – Greater Palm Springs is celebrating the newly designated Sand to Snow National Monument, a biological corridor that links the flora and fauna throughout the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains as well as Joshua Tree National Park.
Located just 30 minutes from downtown Palm Springs, via The Wildlands Conservancy’s Whitewater Preserve, Sand to Snow joins Mojave Trails and Castle Mountains National Monument as America’s three newest National Monuments, all located in California’s ecologically diverse desert region, and all newly designated by President Barack Obama earlier this year.
With its new National Monument status, Sand to Snow joins the family of United States National Park Service units, and its lands now remain permanently protected so that the public can always access this site for outdoor recreation activities such as hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, rock-hounding and more.
“The California desert is a cherished and irreplaceable resource for the people of southern California,” said Sally Jewell, United States Secretary of the Interior. “It is an oasis of nature’s quiet beauty just outside two of our nation’s largest metropolitan areas. Its historic and cultural resources tell the stories of armies, travelers, ranchers, and miners, and of the original caretakers of this land. Today’s designation by the President furthers the longstanding work of public land managers and local communities to ensure these areas will remain preserved and accessible to the public for future generations.”
Spanning 154,000 acres, the Sand to Snow National Monument includes 100,000 acres of wilderness previously designated by Congress. The region offers some of the most biologically diverse habitats in the country and links the San Gorgonio Wilderness to Joshua Tree National Park and the San Bernardino National Forest.
“Sand to Snow’s peaks and valleys have long provided physical and spiritual sustenance to native people,” said Tom Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture. “Today, they are also an inspiration and recreational beacon to millions. We are honored to ensure the permanent protection of these cherished places.”
One of three specially maintained areas within Sand to Snow is the Whitewater Preserve, which features more than 2,500 acres of land that were largely inaccessible to the public for years. Today, the preserve provides year-round recreational opportunities for travelers.
“For us locals, we experience this landscape through the stark beauty often associated with the desert,” said Jack Thompson, Director of Desert Preserves for The Wildlands Conservancy and Manager of the Whitewater Preserve. “The rocky cliffs, sparse and spiny plants and sand dunes are typical of everything we’ve come to know about our environment. To many, the iconic mountain skyline dominating the northwestern horizon as seen from virtually anywhere in the Coachella Valley is almost unreal, like the painted backdrop on a film set.”
Only have a few hours? A short walk in the Preserve is a perfect way to get acquainted, as the geography here is emblematic of the entire monument. Visitors can walk on the Pacific Crest Trail, the world-renowned trail that runs from Mexico to Canada, to witness the dynamic transition of desert into the alpine peaks of the San Bernardino Mountains.
“In the eight years I’ve lived and worked in Whitewater Canyon, I’ve seen some incredible things,” said Thompson. “I’ve watched a mother bighorn sheep race across nearly vertical cliffs to scare a golden eagle away from her newborn lambs; lambs we watched take their first steps. While high on a peak in Sand to Snow, I had a family of three Golden Eagles flying abreast of one another pass by me close enough to touch, the one closest to me looking me directly in the eyes. On a busy day at the preserve, we saw an Osprey, sometimes called a sea hawk, with a massive wingspan well over five feet dive underwater into one of the preserve ponds and emerge with a rainbow trout in its talons. Visitors were stunned, many of them having never seen anything like it.”
Admission to Whitewater Preserve is free, even for campers. Guests can check online for a list of special events and offerings, including outdoor education programs and star gazing parties.
For more information, visit: www.wildlandsconservancy.org/preserve_whitewater.html
Joyce Kiehl, Director of Communications