Public Lands

Audubon Celebrates Legislation to Create New California Desert National Monument

Chuckwalla National Monument would protect 660,000 acres of sacred and historic sites, wildlife habitat

Cactus Wren Photo: Tara Lemezis/Audubon Photography Awards


(Indio, Calif., Sep. 25)—The National Audubon Society today commended Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-Calif.) for the introduction of legislation that would create a sweeping new national monument in California’s Mojave Desert. The proposed 660,000-acre Chuckwalla National Monument would include sites of national historic significance and places deeply sacred to local Iviatim, Nüwü, Pipa Aha Macav, Kwatsáan and Maara’yam indigenous peoples. The proposal would also link the adjacent Joshua Tree National Park with desert habitat “islands” to the southeast, forming important wildlife corridors to help ensure the survival of species including Desert Bighorn Sheep, Desert Tortoise, and the eponymous Chuckwalla Lizard. The proposal would include miles of popular hiking trails and other potential recreation areas that would provide vital outdoor access to residents of communities surrounding the Salton Sea, some of California’s most marginalized.

“The proposed Chuckwalla National Monument would be a win for both people and wildlife,” said Frank Ruiz, director of Audubon California’s Desert and Salton Sea Programs.  “Local communities – some of the state’s most neglected – are already facing a dramatically hotter future, and  the proposed monument will provide much-needed access to outdoor recreation. For wildlife, the protection of these lands and their linkage to other refuges means threatened animals will have the mobility and genetic resilience they need to withstand climate change.  We applaud the leadership of Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D., in protecting public lands for future generations.”

Studies suggest that a national monument designation could help attract more visitors to the area and boost the local economy, particularly for businesses in nearby “gateway” towns like Coachella, Mecca, and Thermal. Previous national monument designations boosted local economies by as much as 10 percent. In general, 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

Jason Howe,; 415-595-9245

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About Audubon
The 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 at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.

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