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Building a Movement for Chuckwalla National Monument

by Andrea Iniguez, Desert Field Organizer

I have been working towards protecting California’s deserts for over two years now.  While I enjoy all aspects of my job, I gravitate towards community organizing the most. I love connecting one-on-one with members of my community and listening to them speak about the issues that are important to them. I wholeheartedly believe that there is a huge misconception that people in the United States, especially our younger generation, don’t care about the global issues that are impacting their lives. However, nothing could be father from the truth. In my experience, people do care about issues, like climate change, but feel discouraged from advocating for change for various reasons. Therefore, it is our role as individuals, and as organizations, in this field to pave the way for the public to participate in the movement for a more sustainable future. 


As you may know, CalWild has engaged in numerous conservation campaigns across the state of California to increase protection for public lands and waters.  Many of these campaigns have made major advancements over the years due to the support of countless passionate individuals that have voiced their excitement for these protections in numerous ways, including signing a petition. For instance, the effort to designate the Chuckwalla National Monument has gained significant momentum since its inception. Its petition has garnered thousands of signatures from residents of eastern Coachella Valley and beyond. For several months, the coalition working on the national monument effort has been collectively boosting its commitment to grassroots engagement by increasing its presence across the board. As a result, I have been able to join coalition partners, like Conservation Lands Foundation and Friends of the Desert Mountains, at several tabling events, including the 2024 Coachella Valley Wildflower Festival in March, where we built awareness of the issue and collected support for the campaign. Plus, it is a great opportunity to directly hear from community members and empower them as advocates.   


In this day and age, it has become increasingly important that people see the force their voice and actions hold, especially when it’s in unity with others. This month, Senator Alex Padilla joined Representative Raul Ruiz, M.D. in championing the proposed Chuckwalla National Monument by introducing bicameral legislation in the Senate and urging President Joe Biden to move forward with the use of the Antiquities Act. This announcement occurred simultaneously with another big event in Washington, D.C. where 800,000 petition signatures that were collected by various national monument campaigns across the country were collectively delivered to the Administration, asking for the President’s immediate action.


These acts wouldn’t be possible without the engagement of countless individuals, of all ages and backgrounds, who care about these issues and took the time to voice their support. Together, let’s keep the momentum going and let’s make this the year of national monuments!