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Volcanic spires and Joshua trees: Obama protects 1.8 million acres in California's desert

Volcanic spires and Joshua trees: Obama protects 1.8 million acres in California's desert

President Obama designated three new national monuments in the California desert Thursday, expanding federal protection to 1.8 million acres of landscapes that have retained their natural beauty despite decades of heavy mining, cattle ranching and off-roading.

The designation was requested by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who for a decade has sought to protect land that wasn't included in the 1994 California Desert Protection Act. That measure covered nearly 7.6 million acres, elevated Death Valley and Joshua Tree to national park status and created the Mojave National Preserve.

Unable to gain momentum on her California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act last year, Feinstein...

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