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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 31, 1994
                      OF THE DESERT PROTECTION BILL

I take great pleasure in signing into law S. 21, the "California Desert Protection Act," an Act to preserve for the American people a resource of extraordinary and inestimable value.

The Act designates as wilderness approximately 7.7 million acres of Federal lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. The Act adds approximately 3 million acres to the National Park System, including magnificent lands adjacent to the Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Monuments, which are redesignated as National Parks. It also establishes the Mojave National Preserve as a new unit of the National Park System.

Few Presidents have the opportunity to preserve so valuable a piece of this Nation's heritage. I exercise this opportunity with enthusiasm and gratitude. I am enthusiastic because this is the first time since 1980 that the United States has set aside so rich and vast an area. The broad vistas, the rugged mountain ranges, and the evidence of the human past are treasures that merit protection on behalf of the American people. I am grateful because we have successfully concluded the long struggle to conserve these lands.

I also note that the Act establishes the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. Jazz is among our country's most widely recognized indigenous music and art forms. The creation of this park is very timely given that next May is the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Buddy Bolden Band in New Orleans, an event many see as the birth of jazz in America.

Senators Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Bennett Johnston, and George Mitchell, and Congressmen George Miller, Richard Lehman, and Bruce Vento deserve our thanks for their leadership and persistence in passing this legislation. I also want to thank Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and his staff for their tireless efforts on behalf of this Administration priority. This achievement is a tribute to the many citizens who worked with congressional leaders and the Administration to ensure the protection of these desert gems.

This Act is proof that the common good and the will of the people can prevail. Today, as I sign this bill, I am pleased to contribute my part to the preservation of the California Desert for the enjoyment of generations to come.