STATEMENT: Proposed national monument would protect 677k acres of California’s desert

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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz and a coalition of tribal and environmental groups at a Monday event called on President Joe Biden to designate Chuckwalla National Monument in California’s desert and protect lands adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park. The president has the power to designate federal public lands, waters, and cultural and historical sites as national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906.

The proposed Chuckwalla National Monument will contain approximately 660,000 acres located south of Joshua Tree National Park and north of the Chocolate Mountains. The coalition is also calling on President Biden to protect approximately 17,000 acres of public lands that are adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park to the east. 

The California Sonoran desert, where the monument would lie, is home to sensitive wildlife species including Chuckwalla lizards, desert tortoises, Sonoran pronghorn and more.

In response, Environment California Research & Policy Center’s State Director Laura Deehan  issued the following statement: 

“Thanks to Representative Ruiz, we are now one step closer to protecting the home of the Chuckwalla lizard, the desert tortoise and the Sonoran pronghorn. These two new protected areas will connect wildlife habitats from Joshua Tree National Park to the Kofa National Wildlife refuge across the Arizona border, giving many species more space to migrate, hunt and find mates. This proposal is a perfect complement to the bill just passed by the state legislature to protect 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030. We’ve been thrilled to see new national monuments in other states. Now, it’s California’s turn. We urge President Biden and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to act quickly to protect our desert.”