The Wilderness Land Trust Acquires Key Land in California's San Gorgonio Wilderness

The Wilderness Land Trust Acquires Key Land in California's San Gorgonio Wilderness

Mar. 21, 2012

A proposal to designate the Sand to Snow National Monument encompasses some of the most scenic lands and diverse ecosystems in California—coniferous forests, riparian woodlands, and low-lying desert. The Wilderness Land Trust has acquired a key piece in this complex puzzle, 640 acres of private land within the San Gorgonio Wilderness.  The purchase of this property protects a stretch of the North Fork of the Whitewater River, a lifeline for resident and migrating wildlife, including Desert bighorn sheep, bears, mountain lions and endangered birds, the least Bell’s vireo and the willow flycatcher.


Located between the Sonoran and Mojave deserts near Palm Springs and Morongo Valley, the property offers dramatic views to some of the highest peaks in California--the 11,500-foot San Gorgonio Peak, the highest in San Bernardino Mountains, and the 10,624-foot San Bernardino Peak, the initial point from which all of Southern California was surveyed in 1852.


Two rivers, the Santa Ana and the Whitewater, two small lakes, meadows, and forests provide diverse habitats for wildlife and a beautiful sub-alpine oasis for outdoor enthusiasts.


Wilderness Land Trust worked for almost two years to secure the property.  WLT is now working to transfer it to the US Forest Service, San Bernardino National Forest, which, along with the Bureau of Land Management, oversees the San Gorgonio Wilderness.


“The land was one of only two properties within the San Bernardino Forest area of the San Gorgonio wilderness to remain in private ownership,” said Aimee Rutledge, the land trust’s California Program Manager. “Private uses inconsistent with wilderness would have despoiled an unbroken expanse of wilderness and potentially set back plans to connect the area to the proposed Sand to Snow National Monument.”


A bill sponsored by California Senator Dianne Feinstein calls for establishing the Sand to Snow National Monument, which would encompass Joshua Tree, Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monuments.


The area includes many miles of trails including a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail, offering hiking, horseback riding, backpacking, fishing, birding, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Thousands of school children already visit the area each year to learn about the natural world.


“We are proud to help complete the San Gorgonio Wilderness for future generations, ensuring that ‘man is a visitor and shall not remain,’ a goal of the 1964 Wilderness Act,” said Reid Haughey, president of Wilderness Land Trust.

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The arrow and X indicates the Whitewater Inholding recently acquired by The Wilderness Land Trust in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, managed by both the San Bernardino National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management.