Death Valley National Park has grown slightly for the second time this year.
The National Park Service recently announced the acquisition of just over 680 acres of private land at seven locations within the 3.4 million acre park.
The parcels were purchased from the Mojave Desert Land Trust, a California nonprofit that buys land from willing sellers for conservation purposes.
“This fills in several holes in the park,” said Death Valley National Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds in a statement. “These areas will never be developed and are now protected for visitors to enjoy.”
The $224,600 purchase included 320 acres leading to a former Epsom salt mine in the Owlshead Mountains; a 55-acre gold prospecting site in the Panamint Mountains; 160 acres near Panamint Springs; 80 acres of salt flats in Saline Valley; 20 acres in Marble Canyon; and 36 acres of former quartz mining land in the Black Mountains.
Already the largest national park in the lower 48 states, Death Valley gained more than 35,000 acres in March as part of a bipartisan lands bill passed by Congress.
President Donald Trump signed the legislation into law on March 12, adding 29,000 acres to the southern end of the park and almost 6,400 acres to the northern end.
The same bill permanently reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses fees from offshore oil and gas drilling to pay for conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the country. Proceeds from the fund were used to buy the 680 acres most recently added to Death Valley National Park.
Roughly 11,000 acres of so-called “private inholdings” remain within the park’s boundary, including about half of the popular Golden Canyon-Gower Gulch loop trail and the entire 20 Mule Team Canyon scenic drive. In both cases, the landowners have granted permission for park visitors to cross their land.
Since 2006, the Mojave Desert Land Trust has acquired 17 private parcels totaling 1,039 acres within Death Valley, almost all of which have been conveyed to the park service.
“These lands help piece together Death Valley National Park and protect the integrity of ecosystems,” said Geary Hund, executive director of the trust. “They are representative of the rich natural, cultural, and scenic values of this precious national park.”