KMIR 9-18-17 Using Military Lands to Protect Environment

Sep 18, 2017

Using Military Lands to Protect the Desert Environment

Posted: Sep 18, 2017 12:43 PM MST Updated: Sep 18, 2017 1:15 PM MST
Twentynine Palms, CA -

Protecting America's home front and environment are crucial for Southern California and thanks to protected lands in the High Desert, those two can be accomplished almost simultaneously.

From thousands of feet in the air, views of desolate landscape are as far as the eye can see.

"It's really important to make sure that land is managed appropriately for the military to use it," said Ian Dowdy with the Sonoran Institute.

Here in the California desert, nearly three million acres of land is managed by the Department of Defense.

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"They have military training routes, special routes air space it's really important to them as they move equipment," he said.

A part of that, 1.6 million acres of the Mojave Trails National Monument fall into military special use airspace which means the land is not only protected by the military but also by federal law.

That's good news for locals in the Coachella Valley and high desert looking for some untapped exploring of the area.

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"The landscape is also really important to people who live around here. They tend to go out and hike, they enjoy the Joshua tree national park, but they also enjoy other lands for off-highway recreation," said Dowdy.

It also ensures wildlife safety as animals move through lands occupied by military. The ultimate goal is to protect the fragility of the desert all while allowing the military to maximize their full potential on uncharted land.

"It's intended to ensure that the land is in place so people in future generations can enjoy it," said Dowdy.

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