Press Release May 20, 2024

Parks Group, Community Leaders Welcome Department of Interior Leadership, Discuss Monumental Expansion to Joshua Tree and Chuckwalla Landscape Protection

“We have the chance to make Joshua Tree National Park whole again. I was born and raised in the California desert. Protecting this landscape is a part of who I am." – Luke Basulto, NPCA's California Desert Program Manager

JOSHUA TREE, CA– The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and local leaders recently joined Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to discuss a proposal to expand Joshua Tree National Park and establish Chuckwalla National Monument.

NPCA and a broad array of advocates including the Protect California Deserts coalition are urging President Biden to use the Antiquities Act to protect approximately 645,000 acres of public lands in the California desert. This monument would connect Joshua Tree National Park to the Colorado River, including roughly 17,000 acres that would be added to the park.

In a Boundary Expansion Study finalized in 2016, the National Park Service identified the proposed park expansion area as a “key building block” for wildlife migration and landscape conservation in the California desert. For decades, NPCA has worked to protect the greater Joshua Tree landscape, known for its rare rock formations, namesake trees, and world-class recreational opportunities. The park region eyed for national monument protection was originally included, then removed from Joshua Tree’s boundaries in the 1940s due to land use changes and boundary adjustments.

In response, Luke Basulto, California Desert program manager with the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), issued the following statement:

“We have the chance to make Joshua Tree National Park whole again. I was born and raised in the California desert. Protecting this landscape is a part of who I am. It was an honor to share with Secretary Haaland how much these public lands mean to my family and our communities. The region between the Coachella Valley and the Colorado River is an environmentally rich and climate-resilient landscape found nowhere else in the world.

“Boosted by a National Park Service recommendation to expand Joshua Tree National Park and overwhelming community support, protecting the Joshua Tree and Chuckwalla landscapes under the Antiquities Act would be a milestone for California desert conservation, preserving habitat for the Mojave desert tortoise and bighorn sheep. President Biden can bring this historic effort across the finish line and build on a longstanding legacy to conserve the California desert. It’s a place I hope to experience with my own kids, in much the same way I did.”

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About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.

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