Poll: Mojave Trails National Monument proposal has strong support

Mojave Desert, Route 66

A proposed Mojave Trails National Monument and two other proposed national monuments in California enjoy strong support from residents, according to a poll by Public Opinion Strategies, reported KCETVet Voice Foundation commissioned the poll.

An alternative proposal by U.S. Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.), however, is opposed by two-thirds of Californians.

President Barack Obama may use executive authority to declare a part of Route 66 in the Mojave Desert as part the Mojave Trails National Monument, along with two other areas in California. Required hearings were held to that effect in October. Fourteen of 19 presidents since the birth of the U.S. park system have used executive authority to declare national monuments.

Legislation by U.S. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to create those monuments has stalled in Congress for six years.

Last month, when it became clear Obama was looking at using his executive authority, Cook introduced a competing bill that would make that part of the Mojave Desert a special management area and allow mining and off-road vehicle usage.

The poll on Feinstein’s and Cook’s proposals was conducted in early November. Nine hundred California residents were questioned with a total error rate of plus or minus 4 percent. Public Opinion Strategies is a Republican polling firm. Key findings:

  • 75 percent of Californians support Obama declaring the three areas as national monuments.
  • Support for the Obama declaration among desert residents was slightly less, at 70 percent.
  • The Obama declaration proposal found strong support even among Republicans, at 62 percent.
  • Cook’s proposal was rejected by 66 percent of Californians and 65 percent of desert residents.

“This poll shows clear support among Californians statewide and in the desert region for the proposed desert national monuments,” Lori Weigel at Public Opinion Strategies said. “Voters want the President to protect these lands as important habitat for wildlife and so that families and children have places to get outdoors and explore nature. This support is broad-based and cuts across many demographics.”

On a related note, the Victorville city council declined to endorse Cook’s plan after hearing from constituents. An excerpt from the Victorville Daily Press:

Cook’s bill calls for Feinstein’s planned monument designation — 941,000 acres of federal land east of Barstow and south of the Mojave National Preserve — to be a special management area. Yet an SMA designation fell too short of being the significant economic driver that the conservationists believed a monument would be, not only for neighboring cities, but also for Route 66.

“I give tours, and I’ve never had anybody from around the world ask me to come and see a special management district,” said Jim Conkle, executive director of the Route 66 Preservation Foundation. “They come to see national parks and national monuments.”

The poll, plus the frigid reception to Cook’s bill, leads me to believe Obama will make the formal declaration for the Mojave Trails National Monument, and soon.

UPDATE 11/26/2015: The San Francisco Chronicle has a good overview of the issues between the two bills. One interesting wrinkle: Perhaps both bills will be combined into a compromise measure sometime in December.

(Image of the Mojave Desert near Siberia, California, by Patrick Dirden via Flickr)

7 thoughts on “Poll: Mojave Trails National Monument proposal has strong support

  1. Having been involved in this project for over 8 years as both a representative of the Route 66 community and a supporter for preserving the Mojave Desert, let me share a few things with you.
    First I no longer speak for the Preservation Foundation yet the media keeps saying that without my approval.
    Second to answer Krissy’s question in regards to the Mitchell Caverns. That is now a state property in their inventory of state parks. There was a group headed up by the owners of the Grand Canyon Caverns to lease this property, I too was involved in that project, from the state. The state elected to open it without an outside lease agreement and still might.
    What the senator’s bill will do is give the Mojave Desert the protection that is going to be needed for the future. Many of us still refer to this bill as the MOTHER ROAD/MOJAVE TRAILS NATIONAL MONUMENT. All the land is now under the stewardship of the BLM, notice I do not say own by the BLM for we the American people own the land.
    The other bill falls short in protecting the future of Route 66 in the desert area as there is a side aside 10% for development and that 10% could be right along both sides of the road.
    For those that want to know more check out our Facebook page, Save Route 66, and our website http://www.saveroute66.com

  2. If that many people support this, there would be no need for executive action from the president. Preservation or more restrictions? 10 % of how much land? Development of some Route 66 attractions? I worked for a National Park and have seen what “preservation” can do.

      1. Although more folks support the senator’s bill both houses of congress are controlled by the other party. Sorry to say that politics can get in the way.
        The 10% could mean as much as 100,000 acres which could encompass the entire section of Route 66 in the Mojave Desert, both sides. The major attraction for roadies is the ‘view scape’.
        Route 66 attractions are few in this area but those and some others could be developed. It is more preserving what is there and adding signage, as well as having Monument status.
        There is NOT one new acre being taken away from anyone.

  3. Mr Conkle stated we are the “owners” of the land. The park I worked for encompassed 54,000 acres, yet the public (owners) are allowed access to very little of that. Many more areas could be opened up, yet the politics of the people in charge don’t allow it. So taking over 1 million acres into a status of “preservation, and in Mr Conkle’s own words, other bills would fall short because they are asking for 10% of that 1 million acres for development and that would not be protecting the future of route 66 is totally ludicrous. Small “developments” on that 10% of 66 could be very beneficial to the preservation of route 66. Who would want anything more than that anyway. It’s the Mojave. Roy’s can’t even get water to open a café. Are we sure it’s not just more land grabbing? I live in the Southwest. We have more national monuments than you can shake a stick at in my area and more areas of those monuments just keep getting shut down to the (owners) of the land. Just not trusting their reasons, I hope if executive orders are used, it turns out to be for the best. We shall see.

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