California’s Chuckwalla National Monument proposal

Mar 21, 2024

The Center for Western Priorities is excited to share the ninth film in our Road to 30: Postcards campaign featuring the Chuckwalla National Monument proposal in Southern California’s Eastern Coachella Valley. 

The proposed Chuckwalla National Monument would protect approximately 660,000 acres just south of Joshua Tree National Park. The proposal is named for the chuckwalla lizard, one of the species found in the region. Establishing the monument would help ensure more equitable access to nature for local communities, and safeguard biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and wildlife migration corridors.

The lands proposed for protection include the homelands of the Iviatim, Nüwü, Pipa Aha Macav, Kwatsáan, and Maara’yam peoples (Cahuilla, Chemehuevi, Mohave, Colorado River Indian Tribes/CRIT Mohave, Quechan, and Serrano nations). The area continues to hold cultural, natural, and spiritual significance for Indigenous peoples today. A national monument designation could provide an opportunity to honor Tribal sovereignty through a collaborative effort with federal agencies to establish co-management or co-stewardship of the monument.

In addition to Tribal nations, the monument proposal is supported by current and former local elected officials, including California Representative Raul Ruiz, M.D., cities and municipalities, dozens of businesses, chambers of commerce, and local community members. The coalition supporting the proposal is urging President Joe Biden to use the Antiquities Act to designate Chuckwalla National Monument. There is also a legislative proposal to protect approximately 17,000 acres of public lands that are adjacent to the east side of Joshua Tree National Park.

Hear from three people who know and love this region and want to see it protected: Altrena Santillanes, Tribal Council Secretary for the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians; Conchita Pozar, a local community leader and conservation advocate; and Frank Ruiz, the director of the California Desert and Salton Sea program for California Audubon.

Quick hits

California Tribe becomes the first to manage land with National Park Service

The Guardian | Associated Press

Supreme Court grills federal government over Rio Grande deal objections

E&E News | Source NM | The Hill

Opinion: We must work across party lines to steward our public lands

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Green River could see pilot lithium plant as early as this month

Salt Lake Tribune

Biden budget request triggers Republican assault on climate corps

E&E News

The future of the Bureau of Indian Affairs

Source NM

Three visitors are suing the National Park Service over cashless payments

Los Angeles Times | USA Today | Fox11

Report reveals the ten most polluted U.S. national parks


Quote of the day

For our people, to go back to an area where our ancestors lived, gathered. It’s emotional. It’s a connection that it’s hard to describe with words.”

—Altrena Santillanes, Tribal Council Secretary for the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, Road to 30: Postcards

Picture This

gila monster lizard in the grass

“Feeling cute, might delete later”

With the blooming of the wonderful wildflowers, people aren’t the only ones showing up! Make sure to keep a cautious eye out as you explore the desert. As the temperatures start to warm up, more of the desert dwellers (such as Gila Monsters, snakes, and other reptiles) will begin to emerge from their burrows. Show them respect, and give them plenty of space; we all (2-legged and 4-legged) deserve to stop and smell the flowers now and again.

(JC; 📸, TWiewel)


Featured photo: Road to 30: Postcards