Press Release

California Rep. Ruiz calls on President Biden to designate Chuckwalla National Monument

Chuckwalla Bench in the California desert

The wild beauty of Chuckwalla Bench, part of the California Desert National Conservation Lands

Sam Roberts

Proposal calls for protecting lands adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park

September 25, 2023 (Coachella, CA) - Today, Representative Raul Ruiz (CA-25) is urging President Biden to take action to preserve the natural beauty and ecological significance of the southern California desert by designating the proposed Chuckwalla National Monument and protecting lands adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park. 

The proposed Chuckwalla National Monument would protect approximately 660,000 acres of federal public lands spanning the area between Coachella Valley and the Colorado River. This vast and stunning desert landscape encompasses breathtaking canyons, unique rock formations, habitats critical to the survival of the chuckwalla lizard and desert tortoise, and migration corridors for desert bighorn sheep. Designating Chuckwalla National Monument would provide vital protection for places of cultural significance for the Iviatim, Nüwü, Pipa Aha Macav, Kwatsáan and Maara’yam peoples (Cahuilla, Chemehuevi, Mojave, Quechan, and Serrano nations), help ensure more equitable access to nature, and safeguard a rich history.  

“Establishing the Chuckwalla National Monument would benefit communities and landscape in this area by enhancing landscape connectivity, protecting ecological diversity, expanding opportunities for equitable outdoor experiences, guiding sustainable economic growth, and bolstering resiliency to extreme events such as flooding, fires, and drought,” said Alicia Thomas, California Community Partnerships Manager, The Wilderness Society. “By protecting this unique region of the SoCal desert, we ensure that present and future generations can continue building new stories and relationships with the landscape." 

In addition to calling for the designation of Chuckwalla National Monument, Rep. Ruiz is also advocating for the protection of lands adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park, an iconic desert landscape that attracts millions of visitors annually. The proposed area encompasses 17,000 acres of public land adjacent to the east side of the Park and has been deemed a suitable addition by the National Park Service. By expanding the Park we can create additional recreational opportunities, strengthen the region's economy through increased tourism, and build a connected landscape of public lands that would ensure connectivity for wildlife, plant life, and free-flowing waters impacted by climate change.  

“Public lands conservation is deeply linked to community well-being, and lasting conservation efforts cannot be sustained without a holistic and inclusive community-centric approach. Communities in Imperial and Riverside Counties have long-standing legacies honoring this relationship between people and landscape. This region sits in the transitional zone between the Mojave and Colorado deserts—a precious landscape containing the interwoven elements of its unique topographies, endemic plants and animals, and millennia of cultural heritage, all found nowhere else in the world,” said Thomas.  

Rep. Ruiz believes that investing in land conservation is a critical step toward protecting the southern California region and promoting a climate-resilient future. By designating Chuckwalla National Monument and expanding Joshua Tree National Park, we can ensure that these natural treasures are protected for generations to come. 

Contact: Alicia Thomas, California Community Partnerships Manager,, (415) 398-1111