STATEMENT on Presidential Designation of Avi Kwa Ame and Castner Range national monuments

Mar 21, 2023

DENVER—President Joe Biden will sign proclamations today creating Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in southern Nevada and Castner Range National Monument just outside of El Paso, Texas. The Avi Kwa Ame designation follows a pledge to protect the area made by President Biden at the 2022 Tribal Nations Summit hosted by the White House. These designations mark the second and third time the President has used his authority under the Antiquities Act to create new national monuments. 

Avi Kwa Ame National Monument covers over 500,000 acres of public land, including the Spirit Mountain Wilderness. The monument connects a sensitive desert landscape spanning from the Mojave National Preserve in California to Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona and Nevada. Avi Kwa Ame is the Mojave name for Spirit Mountain, a peak that is considered sacred by the Fort Mojave Tribe, one of the leaders of the campaign to protect the area surrounding Avi Kwa Ame. The area is considered sacred by ten Yuman-speaking Tribes, as well as the Hopi and Chemehuevi Paiute.

Castner Range National Monument covers nearly 7,000 acres in the Franklin Mountains, which border the city of El Paso. Castner Range is a former military weapons testing site owned by the U.S. Department of Defense. It borders Franklin Mountains State Park, a popular recreation destination. The Range is also a biodiversity hotspot, serving as habitat for hundreds of species of Chihuahuan Desert plants, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The community of El Paso has been fighting more than 50 years to gain access to this landscape for the enjoyment of its residents, as well as greater protections for wildlife that depend on the area.

In response to the President’s signing of these proclamations, the Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Executive Director Jennifer Rokala:

“Today is a great day for Western public lands. I’m excited to see President Biden following through on his promise to Tribal nations by designating Avi Kwa Ame National Monument, and I’m happy to see the wishes of El Pasoans granted with the designation of Castner Range National Monument. 

“The designation of these monuments is a win-win situation for the Biden administration, which has pledged to protect 30 percent of the U.S. by 2030 and improve U.S. relations with Tribal nations.The President’s actions today show that he is listening to communities and Tribal nations that have been calling for the protection of natural and cultural resources and for safe, equitable access to more public lands. But he still has a long way to go to reach the 30×30 goal. 

“As President Biden continues to build his conservation legacy we encourage him to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect more public lands for future generations of Americans.”

Avi Kwa Ame and Castner Range PHOTOS and B-ROLL (For non-commercial and editorial use only. Please credit: Center for Western Priorities.) 

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(Photo credit: Castner Range in bloom, Mark Clune)