Department of the Interior to open critical lands to mining in CA desert

Feb 6, 2018

Recreation in the California desert could be severely impacted from mining on popular public lands.

John Dittli

The Department of the Interior has announced its intent to stop a public process, known as a “mineral withdrawal,” that would protect special areas in the California desert from new mining claims. This mineral withdrawal is essential in order to decide which protections should be put in place for the benefit of all - including the conservation of sacred Native American sites and cultural resources, critical wildlife areas, and valued places for hiking, camping, hunting and grazing. A wide variety of stakeholders in the desert believe that new industrial scale mining activity should be restricted on these important lands.

The Wilderness Society Conservation Director Phil Hanceford responded to the impending Department of the Interior action that would roll back mining withdrawal protections in the California Desert:

“While this announcement is not surprising, coming from an administration that is aggressively forcing fossil fuel development over all other uses on America’s public lands, it also adds insult to injury given last week’s announcement that the entire structure of this important plan is at risk. We will continue to defend the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan and fight against the administration’s efforts to dismantle the balance that the plan creates—for both development of renewable energy and conservation of wildlife, recreation and other values the public loves about this beautiful corner of California.”


Phil Hanceford, Conservation Director,; 303-225-4636

Kate Mackay, Communications Director – Wildlands,; 602-571-2603