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The proposed Chuckwalla National Monument makes major advances

California’s deserts are renowned for their startling beauty, unique features, and diversity of life. Unsurprisingly, millions of visitors are drawn to California’s deserts each year to recreate and enjoy the outdoors. The proposed Chuckwalla National Monument, which made headlines last month, aims to safeguard about 660,000 acres of beloved public lands. Plus, this initiative includes the desire to extend Joshua Tree National Park by 17,000 acres.

The proposal encompasses popular places for outdoor recreation and promotes equitable access to nature for residents of nearby communities, like Eastern Coachella Valley. In addition, the designation would support important linkages for wildlife, like the iconic desert tortoise, by connecting Joshua Tree National Park to other protected areas in the region. The landscape is saturated with cultural significance and its places are deeply sacred to local Iviatim, Nüwü, Pipa Aha Macav, Kwatsáan and Maara’yam indigenous peoples. Thus, the national monument would honor the cultural landscape, and its tribal communities, by safeguarding important heritage values linked to the land. Woven into the region’s history is the nation’s ties to World War II. This proposal aims to preserve sites of national historical significance in a way that aligns with the countries “30X30” goal.

Representative Raul Ruiz, M.D. in favor of the national monument

Given the outstanding benefits to people and nature, we are extremely thrilled that Representative Raul Ruiz, M.D., has introduced legislation in favor of the Chuckwalla National Monument and Joshua Tree National Park expansion. In a press conference held last month, the Congressman expressed his enthusiasm for the proposal as he addressed a crowd of government officials, including Secretary Wade Crowfoot, Tribal representatives, community leaders, and residents alike. That same day, he was joined on stage by local elected officials, like Mayor Oscar Ortiz from Indio, and Tribal leaders, like Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe President Jordan D. Joaquin and Colorado River Indian Tribes Council Elder David Harper, to announce the collaborative effort and celebrate the proposal. The ceremony was closed by applause from audience members following a moving performance by the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Bird Singers.

We are tremendously grateful for Representative Ruiz’s leadership. For years, CalWild, and coalition partners, have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to build support for this proposal. It was truly enriching to see this work finally breathe life. This milestone wouldn’t have been possible without the Congressman’s leadership and the collective voices of everyone who has joined and participated in this effort thus far. Although this campaign still has a long journey ahead, we want to take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate this remarkable achievement. We appreciate everyone who helped lay the groundwork for this historic legislation by signing the petition, writing letters of support, responding to action alerts, and overall helping to amplify this movement.

Please continue to support this effort by joining us in urging President Biden to designate the Chuckwalla National Monument and protect lands adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park through his use of the Antiquities Act. Take action by signing the petition here and sharing it with others. Collectively, we can ensure that California’s deserts are protect for present and future generations.