Interior Initiates Process to Protect Important Lands Near Joshua Tree National Park

Last edited 09/29/2021

Date: October 28, 2016
Dana Wilson (U.S. Bureau of Land Management), 916-978-4622
David Smith (National Park Service),, 760-367-5501

TWENTYNINE PALMS Calif. – Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael L. Connor approved the first step in an effort to transfer public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Riverside County to the National Park Service. The proposed transfer would involve lands that were part of the Joshua Tree National Monument when it was originally designated in 1936. This transfer would provide contiguous management of important lands and resources in the Eagle Mountain area next to Joshua Tree National Park.

In support of this effort, Deputy Secretary Connor signed a proposed withdrawal application covering approximately 22,500 acres. This announcement follows Deputy Secretary Connor’s visit to the park earlier this week to tour the proposed withdrawal area.  

“National Parks and other public lands are intimately connected to the communities and landscapes beyond their borders, and today’s announcement marks the first step in a process to more fully protect important areas near Joshua Tree, one of our nation’s iconic parks,” said Deputy Secretary Connor. “We look forward to thoughtful dialogue with the public and stakeholders on effectively managing and conserving this critical area.” 

The Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service are jointly working on the proposed withdrawal. Today’s approval is the first step in the withdrawal process and initiates a segregation of the public lands that withdraws those lands from the operation of the mining and mineral materials law. The segregation is intended to preserve the status quo while the withdrawal process is under review. 

The segregation of the public lands covered by the withdrawal limits activities to existing uses for a two-year period, pending an evaluation of the suitability of withdrawing and transferring these lands to the National Park Service. The two-year segregation has essentially the same effect as a withdrawal - it would prohibit new mining claims in the designated areas. Neither the segregation nor any withdrawal, however, would prohibit ongoing or future mining or extraction operations on valid existing claims.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission-licensed hydroelectric-pump storage project and associated right-of-way application for a transmission gen-tie line and a water pipeline currently under review by the Bureau of Land Management are not affected by the proposed withdrawal. 

The National Park Service has been preparing an Environmental Assessment for a boundary study on the Eagle Mountain area for nearly two years. The National Park Services expects to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact in early December supporting the segregation.

An official notice of the proposed withdrawal will be published in the Federal Register on November 3, 2016, which initiates the two-year segregation period and begins the public comment period. The Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service will host a public meeting to gather comments related to the withdrawal process. 

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