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Effort to Proclaim Chuckwalla National Monument Accelerates with Announcement of Bicameral Legislation 

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(WASHINGTON, D.C.–April 16, 2024) – The National Audubon Society today celebrated bicameral legislation introduced by Senators Alex Padilla and Laphonza Butler (both D-CA) and Congressman Raúl Ruiz (D-CA-25) that would designate a new Chuckwalla National Monument, just east of Joshua Tree National Park in the deserts of southeast California. The designation would protect some 620,000 acres of wildlife habitat, sites of national historic significance, as well as landscapes deeply sacred to local Iviatim, Nüwü, Pipa Aha Macav, Kwatsáan and Maara’yam Indigenous peoples. The legislation would also expand Joshua Tree National Park by nearly 18,000 acres.

Frank Ruiz, director of Audubon California’s Deserts and Salton Sea Programs, joined members of Congress, Tribal leaders, and community organizations today in presenting 840,000 signatures from across California and the United States – including more than 136,000 for Chuckwalla alone – calling on the administration to expand, designate, and protect national monuments and sacred lands across the United States.  The signatures were gathered in petition drives supporting proposed national monuments nationwide.

“We’re very excited to see the support and momentum for this important effort,” said Audubon’s Ruiz. “This historic designation would enhance wildlife corridors by offering threatened wildlife areas to thrive and a buffer from a warming climate.  It would be a big boost to local communities, benefiting local economies, and bringing hiking trails and other outdoor recreation opportunities to communities that desperately need them. And it would finally give Indigenous peoples a voice in managing the lands that have sustained them for generations.”

“We’re thrilled that Senators Padilla and Butler have joined Congressman Ruiz and thousands of Californians in calling to protect California’s incomparable desert landscapes,” said Felice Stadler, vice president of government affairs for the National Audubon Society. “These lands sit at the nexus of the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts and harbor enormous biodiversity. They offer access to the outdoors for some 650,000 residents of desert communities. And for thousands of years, they’ve been the homeland and sacred landscapes for local Indigenous peoples. You’d have to look hard to find a place more worthy of protection, and Audubon looks forward to working with our partners, Congress and the administration to move this monument designation forward.”

Audubon has been working in coalition with more than a dozen conservation organizations and community partners, including local and Tribal voices, in the Protect California Deserts Coalition

Located at the junction of the Mojave, Sonoran and Colorado Deserts, the Chuckwalla region is home to astonishing biodiversity, including the Phainopepla, Western Tanager, Verdin, Cactus Wren, and Greater Roadrunner — along with bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, American badgers, desert pupfish, and other endangered wildlife. During World War II, General George Patton trained U.S. soldiers for desert combat in the region.

National monument designations have boosted local economies by as much as 10 percent, and a Chuckwalla National Monument could be a boon for businesses in nearby towns like Coachella, Mecca, and Thermal. Outdoor recreation is a significant contributor to California’s economy, adding more than $54.7 billion to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) and supporting more than 517,000 jobs in the state.

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Media contacts:  

Jason Howe/National Audubon Society: [email protected]; 415-595-9245Shineh Rhee/Audubon California: [email protected]

About AudubonThe National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.



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