California Desert District


The California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA)

Q. What is the CDCA?The Mojave Desert Landscape

A. The CDCA is a 25-million acre expanse of land in southern California designated by Congress in 1976 through the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. About 10 million acres are administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Q. Is it managed differently from other BLM lands?

A. Yes. When Congress created the CDCA it recognized its special values, proximity to the population centers of southern California, and the need for a comprehensive plan for managing the area.

Q. Did Congress set requirements for the CDCA Plan?

A. Yes. It stated the plan must be based on the concepts of multiple use, sustained yield, and maintenance of environmental quality. Congress directed BLM to prepare and implement a comprehensive, long-range plan for the management, use, development and protection of the public lands within the CDCA.

Q. How did BLM develop such a plan?

A. BLM began by conducting intensive inventories and research into the desert environment and its current uses with the help of scientists, government agencies, and interest groups. A major contributor was the Congressionally-created California Desert Conservation Area Advisory Committee, a distinguished group of noted desert experts. Public opinion polls and surveys were also utilized.

Q. Was the public given an opportunity to be involved?

A. Yes, a wide variety of public involvement techniques were used. Many draft documents were distributed for public review, including 18,000 copies of the draft plan with its various management alternatives. Some 70 meetings and hearings were held, 9,000 written responses were received, and more than 40,000 individual comments were analyzed and used in the decision-making process.

Q. How much did all of this effort cost?

A. BLM spent about $8 million for research, plan preparation, and public involvement.

Q. What was the final result?

A. The final result was a plan that met all of Congress' requirements and that balanced the diverse public demands and needs. The plan was widely endorsed. A 1980 Los Angeles Times editorial stated that the plan "protects the interests of preservationists while recognizing the needs of miners, ranchers and utility companies."

Q. Who approved the plan?

A. The CDCA Plan was approved by both outgoing Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus in 1980 (Democrat) and incoming Secretary of the Interior James Watt in 1981 (Republican).

Next section: Highlights of the Plan