Press Center

Audubon CA joined Tribal Leaders, Elected Officials, and Residents to Support a Chuckwalla National Monument at DOI Listening Session 

More than 700 supporters attended to urge protection of this unique California desert region for biodiversity, cultural heritage, economic benefits, and more.

Eastern Coachella Valley, California This morning, the Department of the Interior (DOI) hosted a public listening session where more than 700 advocates attended and dozens spoke up in support of the proposed Chuckwalla National Monument, a unique area of more than 627,000 acres in the Southern California desert, adjacent to the Salton Sea. Tribal leaders, elected officials, community organizations, veterans, business owners, and local residents shared their voice and urged the establishment of the monument. 

“We’re grateful to the Biden Administration for listening to our communities about the need to protect this vital landscape,” said Frank Ruiz, Director of Audubon California’s Desert and Salton Sea Programs, who has been co-leading the years-long campaign to establish the monument. “From the diverse testimonials we heard today, the social, cultural, and environmental benefits are clear: we must conserve these lands for our communities and future generations. The designation of this national monument will be a huge win for people, birds, and climate.”

Today’s community meeting represents a critical step forward in the effort to establish the National Monument. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland came to visit the proposed area in late May, hosting a roundtable with Audubon CA and other members of the Protect CA Deserts coalition, as well as visiting the Painted Canyon hiking area. 

“The Painted Canyon in Mecca was the first hike I ever took and to this day, I remember the impression it had on me: the beauty of the mountains, the rare plants, the songbirds, and the stunning views,” said Camila Bautista, Audubon California’s Desert and Salton Sea Program Manager. “That’s why we are asking President Biden to use the Antiquities Act to designate the Chuckwalla National Monument. This will help preserve these special places and give our community more chances to connect with nature.”

The proposed national monument has garnered diverse local support, including from the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, the Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe, the Cahuilla Band of Indians, the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, the Colorado River Indian Tribes, the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians, current and former local elected officials, the cities of Banning, Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert, and Palm Springs, businesses, Chambers of Commerce, and residents of the eastern Coachella Valley and neighboring areas.

The Chuckwalla National Monument is important for our community, not only as an environmental and economic justice issue, but also as a social justice issue,” said Rhian Reyes, Audubon California’s Desert and Salton Sea Campaign Organizer. “Our community in the Eastern Coachella Valley deserves the same opportunities to enjoy nature and recreation as other communities. This is not only for us but for future generations to have critical access to the outdoors.”


Contact: Shineh Rhee, 

Communications Director, Audubon California 

How you can help, right now