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The Planet

PRESS RELEASE: California Desert Victory

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 8, 1994

Contact: Teresa Schilling 415/977-5508 or Roni Lieberman 202/675-7903

CALIFORNIA DESERT VICTORY CROWNS 20-YEAR CAMPAIGN

Sierra Club Praises Determination of Activists, Leadership of Feinstein, Miller

Washington, D.C ... Calling passage of the California Desert Protection Act the greatest wilderness and parks victory for the lower 48 states, the Sierra Club praised desert champions both in and out of Congress for the 11th-hour passage of the measure.

"This is the fruition of two decades of activism on behalf of desert protection, "said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. "That we got it through the worst environmental Congress since the first Earth Day is a tribute to grassroots activists across the country, and to the leadership of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representatives George Miller and Rick Lehman. "

"The Desert Protection Act safeguards more publicly owned land in the lower 48 than any single measure since the original wilderness act," Pope said. "In taking this extraordinary step, Congress has broken its gridlock and complied with the clear wishes of the American people. Those in the House and Senate who voted for this bill can hold their heads high as this Congress adjourns."

Adding to the luster of the legislative triumph, Sierra Club leaders said, was the fact that the Desert Act had to survive this year's record-setting filibusters by obstructionists in the Senate. "A handful of Republican senators have tried to bring the 103rd Congress to a grinding halt -- the Desert bill is one of the few survivors of the scorched earth of this Congress," said Debbie Sease, the Sierra Club's legislative director. "Senator Feinstein and Congressman Miller have broken a decade of desert gridlock."

"I've been working 20 years for this day, it marks the sunrise for desert protection and the sunset for desert abuse.," said Elden Hughes, longtime desert activist from Southern California. "It is also a continuation of America's longstanding love affair with wilderness."

"Hats off to Senator Feinstein, she has created a desert legacy for California and the nation," said Marty Hayden, Sierra Club's Washington Representative.

The California Desert Protection Act is the largest wilderness measure in the lower 48 states since the original wilderness act in 1964. It adds almost 7 million acres of land to wilderness. It creates two new national parks, Death Valley and Joshua Tree, which currently are national monuments. In the East Mojave it create the Mojave National Preserve.

A terrain filled with spectacular mountain ranges, monumental sand dunes, the world's largest Joshua Tree forest and thousands of archeological sites, the desert is also home to more than 2000 distinct species of plants and animals, including the threatened desert tortoise, and to the largest living organism -- the creosote ring.

The Sierra Club is North America's largest grassroots environmental organization . Its half-million members work to protect the environment and public health.


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