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Sen. Dianne Feinstein Leaves Behind a Track Record of Protecting America’s Deserts

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who spent more than 30 years in the Senate, has died at age 90. News broke Friday morning after the Senator passed away at her home in Washington, D.C.

She’ll be remembered as the longest-serving female senator and for a track record focused on protecting America’s deserts.

Sen. Feinstein introduced a bill in 1994 known as the California Desert Protection Act. Then, under President Clinton, the bill became a law and established Death Valley and Joshua Tree as national parks. Both sites were previously national monuments. The enactment also created the East Mojave Natural Preserve. 

Her legacy with deserts continued in 2016 under President Obama. Sen. Feinstein originally created a bill to protect more California desert, which the President later used as a template to designate three new national monuments, including Mojave Trails National Monument, the Sand to Snow National Monument, and Castle Mountains National Monument. The designation protected an additional 1.8 million acres of desert land.

feinstein desert protections
Mojave Trails National Monument was designated in 2016. (Source: Getty Images)

Finally, Sen. Feinstein authored the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act. This bill was the final step in the plan from the original 1994 protections. The 2019 bill signed by President Trump protected an additional 375,000 acres of wilderness, along with the expansion of the national parks and 77 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers.

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