news releases

16 April 2024

Hispanic Access’ Statement on Bill Introduction to Designate Chuckwalla National Monument

Category: News Releases

Today, Senator Alex Padilla announced a bill to designate the Chuckwalla National Monument in California and protect approximately 660,000 acres of public lands. In addition, Senator Padilla and Representative Raul Ruiz, M.D. sent a joint letter to President Biden urging him to use the Antiquities Act to designate the proposed monument. In response, Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation, released the following statement:

“We applaud Senator Padilla for his proactive stance and joining numerous current and formal local elected officials, regional tribes and cities including Banning, Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, and Calipatra, Chambers of Commerce, local businesses, residents, and environmental conservation groups to support the Chuckwalla National Monument designation.

“Residents in the eastern Coachella Valley and neighboring communities have endured severe environmental challenges, including extreme heat, air, water pollution, and limited access to natural spaces. Establishing the Chuckwalla National Monument will help rectify this disparity by ensuring fair access to nature and natural resources for these communities.

“The designation will safeguard the rich cultural heritage ingrained in this landscape by protecting significant cultural landmarks such as multi-use trail systems established by Indigenous peoples, sacred sites and artifacts, traditional cultural areas, geoglyphs, petroglyphs, pictographs, and native flora and fauna. These invaluable cultural, natural, and spiritual assets are essential to the well-being of Indigenous peoples in the region. The designation would also introduce methods for Tribes to steward their homelands in partnership with federal agencies. 

“Securing permanent protection for these California desert lands through monument designation would help protect vast desert ecosystems that are critical habitats for various species, including the chuckwalla lizard and the desert tortoise, while also serving as vital migration corridors for desert bighorn sheep.

This Chuckwalla National Monument designation would significantly contribute to the state and federal commitments to conserving a minimum of 30 percent of our public lands and waters by 2030. With this designation, President Biden is currently on track to protect more public land than any other modern first-term President in history.

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