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The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument is a National Monument in Southern California. It includes portions of the Santa Rosa and San Jacintomarker ranges, the northernmost of the Peninsular Ranges, west of the Coachella Valley. The national monument covers portions of Riverside Countymarker. It is located approximately 100 miles southeast of Los Angelesmarker.

The monument was established in October 2000, through Congressional legislation (Public Law 106-351). It covers an area of 252,000 acres. It is administered jointly by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service.

Many species within the national monument are state and federal listed as threatened or endangered, including the Peninsular Bighorn Sheep, a subspecies endemic to the Peninsular Ranges.

The Agua Caliente Band of Native Americans own substantial acreage within the monument, are one of the managing agencies and have historic cultural interests throughout the mountains.

More than 200 cultural resources have been recorded on federally-managed lands within the monument including the Martinez Canyon Rockhouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Preservation history

Since the late 1800s, the area has been protected as public lands, beginning as forest reserves and then as part of the San Bernardino National Forestmarker in 1925. In 1928, Mount San Jacinto State Parkmarker was established, and has 8,614 acres within the national monument boundary. In 1917 and 1927, state game refuges were established on both the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. In the 1960s, the state agency, California Department of Fish and Game began to set aside special areas called ecological reserves to protect certain species and habitats, and there are now three reserves with 28,900 acres of state reserve lands in the monument. Other state agencies involved in conservation of the area include the Philip L. Boyd Deep Canyon Research Center (University of California Reserve System) and the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy. In addition, the 1964 Wilderness Act established the San Jacinto Wilderness and in 1984, the California Desert Protection Act added the Santa Rosa Wildernessmarker. Other agencies include local and tribal governments which have habitat conservation plans, including the Habitat Conservation Plan addition to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians' Tribal Conservation Program .Private conservation organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy,American Land Conservancy, and Friends of the Desert Mountains, have alsocontributed to the protection of the mountains through land purchases and acquisitions.

Landscape, vegetation and wildlife

California section of the Peninsular Range
The monument is oriented northwest to southeast along the edge of the broad Coachella Valley, and the terrain risessharply from below sea level to nearly 11,000 feet. These mountains are a part of the Peninsular Range Province, which extends from the Baja Peninsula in Mexico to San Jacinto Mountains in California. San Jacinto Peak is the highest point in the Peninsular Range Province and has one of the the steepest fault-block escarpments in North America.

The differences in elevation, temperature, and moisture gives rise to diverse vegetation. Being the western boundary of the Sonoran Desertmarker, the eastern mountainslopes are hotter and drier, while the western side is affected by the Pacific Oceanmarker and receives more precipitation with cooler temperatures. There are several major vegetation areas ranging from sand dunes/sand fields, chaparral and mesquite to riparian zones of willow and cottonwood, desert fan palm oasis woodland, and pinyon pine woodland, with the highest elevations supporting lodgepole pine timberline forest.

Another factor influencing plant and animal species is the "island" aspect of the San Jacinto Mountains and the Peninsular Range, the unique isolation of the landform on three sides-the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Salton Trough/desert environment in the east, and to the north, the San Gorgonio Passmarker. Biologists believe that this isolation has contributed to evolution of subspecies such as the San Diego mountain kingsnake.

Fan palm groves, part of the natural community of desert fan palm (Washingtonia filifera) oasis woodland, are located at permanent water sites of both Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. The fan palm is a relict species, although not listed under the Endangered Species Act. Associated plants in the oasis woodland include honey mesquite, arrow weed and deer grass.

The largest plant category in the national monument is collectively known as desert scrub and includes Sonoran Cresosote Scrub and Sonoran Mixed Woody and Succulent Scrub vegetation communities. Desert scrub occupies more than 160,000 acres and consists of creosote bush (Larrea tridentate), burrobrush (Ambrosia dumosa), cacti and other stem succulents. Desert scrub is found on the alluvial fans and intermountain bajadas, growing on coarse, well-drained soils. Wildlife of the desert scrub plant community include the federally-protected Peninsular Ranges bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni), and the desert tortoise (Xerobates (or Gopherus) agassizii).

On both sides of the mountains, montane coniferous forest occur from around 5,500 to 9,000 feet in elevation. Vegetation in this area includes Jeffery pine, ponderosa pine, incense cedar, and sugar pine.

Rare plants in the national monument include Hidden Lake bluecurls (federally listed as threatened, 1998) and found at a single vernal pool site, Nuttall's scrub oak, desert sand verbena, Yucaipa onion, and vanishing wild buckwheat.

There are 19 species endemic to the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument area. These species require or are restricted to a small geographical area which makes them vulnerable from any habitat disturbance. A few of these species are: Johnston's rockcress, Casey’s June beetle , Coachella Valley round-tailed ground squirrel, Munz’s mariposa lily, Pratt’s dark aurora blue butterfly, San Jacinto bush snapdragon, Santa Rosa Mountain linanthus, Tahquitz ivesia, and Ziegler’s aster.

The Bureau of Land Management lists eight animal species within the monument as endangered, threatened or rare. Of these, all but one are federally-listed with the southern rubber boa being state-listed as threatened. In addition to the Peninsular bighorn sheep and the desert tortoise, some of these protected wildlife include the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard and the Southwestern willow flycatcher.

Management and recreation

Historic Jack Miller's cabin.
NRHP-listed as Martinez Canyon Rockhouse.
The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument is managed by a mosiac of entities; Bureau of Land Management (89,500 acres), US Forest Service Forest (65,000 acres), Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (19,800 acres), California Department of Parks and Recreation (12,900 acres), 36,400 acres of other State of California agencies, and 38,500 acres of private lands. Most of the common recreatioal uses of hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and camping are allowed, with the exception of special areas such as ecological reserves and essential bighorn sheep habitat. The Pacific Crest Trail traverses the western part of the national monument, and is one of the nation’s first National Scenic Trails established by the National Trails System Act (Public Law 90-543). This segment of the trail is managed by the Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The national monument legislation (introduced on February 16, 2000, by Congresswoman Mary Bono), authorized the establishment of a management plan that included cooperative agreements with existing organizations, such as the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the University of California, as well as maintaining most of the historical land uses, except mining and geothermal activities.
"The establishment of the National Monument will not be construed to alter the existing authorized uses of the federal lands included in the National Monument... Intends to generally manage continue many of the currently authorized or historical land uses. These uses include recreational activities, hunting, trapping, and fishing, grazing..."

"...a special effort to consult with representatives of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians regarding the management plan during the preparation and implementation of the plan. Consistent with the management plan and existing authorities, the Secretaries [meaning Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture] may enter into cooperative agreements and shared management arrangements, which may include special use permits with any person, including the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, for the purposes of management, interpretation, and research and education regarding the resources of
the National Monument."

"In the case of any agreement with the University of California in existence as of the date of enactment of this Act relating to the University’s use of certain Federal land within the National Monument,...either revise the agreement or enter into a new agreement as may be necessary..."



  • Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement Bureau of Land Management February 2004.

  • Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Act of 2000, July 17, 2000. Report 106-750.

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