Over the last two years, leaders have campaigned for the protection of the Chuckwalla land, hoping to establish a new national monument, protecting more than just wildlife.
“It’s going to protect our land, it’s going to protect the plants. It’s going to protect the animals and it’s going to protect sacred cultural sites.” Congressman Raul Ruiz says.
The proposed Chuckwalla National Monument lies in between North Indio and continues Eastward to border Arizona.
If successful, the potential national monument could provide numerous opportunities for local residents.
“People will feel connected to the land, empowered to protect the land and empowered to understand themselves through the lens of where they live in the context, and it’s going to empower the community to take their responsibilities as well… as well as providing health opportunities for individuals and economic opportunities through tourism and recreation.” Congressman Ruiz says.
Local leaders say through protecting sacred land, wildlife, and habitat, the air quality would improve as well.
As for Joshua Tree, the national park could be adding another 22,000 acres.
“I think especially for the Eastern Coachella Valley communities that are park-deprived communities, having access to public lands, having access to picnicking and camping and stargazing in public lands, this is a great opportunity for them.” Frank Ruiz, the Salton Sea Program Director for Audubon California says.
Members of nearby Native tribes helped out with additional support.
“A lot of nongovernmental organizations with tribes, the state, bringing representation out… this is almost unheard of, so I’m very happy to be a part of this event, because we have a lot of different entities coming together in order to make this a successful request for a national monument.” Donald Medart Jr., a Councilmember for the Quechan Indian Tribe says.
As for the next step.
“Work to move this through the committee’s as well as working with the White House and the president in order to encourage him to use the Antiquities Act and have an executive order to sign this legislation, or I would say, to designate this under the Antiquities Act, a protecting national monument.” Congressman Ruiz says.