When an executive order put national monuments at stake, the Mojave Desert Land Trust began the Desert Defenders campaign to continue its conservation of the Mojave Desert ecosystem and uphold its government protection.

MDLT held a Monuments for All rally Thursday evening at Idle Spurs Steakhouse — the first in Barstow — where approximately 35 members of the community gathered to learn more about the California Desert National Monuments and how to prevent losing them.

As an environmental conservation organization, Mojave Desert Land Trust’s mission is to protect the Mojave Desert ecosystem along with it’s “scenic and cultural values” — in special regard to the three Mojave Monuments in danger: Castle Mountains, Sand to Snow and Mojave Trails.

“We are focusing a lot of our energy on Mojave Trails; the area is so sensitive,” MDLT Media Coordinator Samantha Shipani said.

MDLT decided to hold their first rally after President Donald Trump signed an executive order on April 26 instructing the Department of the Interior to review the designations of national monuments under the Antiquities Act.

Thursday was the second rally featuring live music, a Q&A addressing federal attacks on California desert national monuments and what community members can do to help. David Lamfrom, the director of the California Desert and National Wildlife programs at the National Parks Conservation Association, gave a motivational speech as well.

“We felt it was a really productive dialogue. We had people who came in and did not even know what the California Desert National Monuments were,” Shipani said.

The organization held its first rally at its headquarters in Joshua Tree on May 8 where attendees signed letters to elected officials and learned about the California monuments in danger.

The Mojave Desert Land Trust is also aiming to bring attention to the “gateway communities” that surround the California Desert Monuments, like Barstow. According to MDLT, the gateway communities will benefit the most from the preserving of the monuments.

“To have them taken away stands as injustice for the people who benefit the most from them,” Shipani said. “At the end of the day, the monuments are for the people surrounding them.”

MDLT aims to bring awareness through rallies and other events in hopes members of the community will join in on protecting public lands. All of the signatures gathered at the three rallies will be submitted to the Department of the Interior by July 10.

“We have one more rally in Indio and after that, we will just keep collecting community input and keeping them informed about the national monuments,” Shipani said.

Since its foundation in 2006, Mojave Desert Land Trust has worked to protect 67,000 acres of prime desert habitat and hopes to continue its work by securing the Mojave Desert National Monuments and more.

For more information, call the Mojave Desert Land Trust 760-366-5440 or visit www.mdlt.org. Mojave Desert Land Trust headquarters is located at 60124 Twentynine Palms High in Joshua Tree.