Pew Applauds President Biden’s Actions to Protect Public Lands and Waters

Expanded safeguards, which include naming new national monuments, will benefit nature and people

WASHINGTON—The Pew Charitable Trusts today commended President Joe Biden for acting to protect culturally significant landscapes in Nevada and Texas and promote ecosystem connectivity and resilience on public lands. 

National monuments

Pew praised President Biden for establishing two national monuments—Avi Kwa Ame in Nevada and Castner Range in Texas—that protect Tribal homelands and commemorate local history and culture. In both cases, local communities had been advocating for the protections for years.   

Located in southern Nevada’s East Mojave Desert, Avi Kwa Ame—the Mojave name for Spirit Mountain and its surrounding landscape—is the place of origin for Yuman-speaking Tribes, including the Mojave, Hualapai, Yavapai, Havasupai, Quechan, Maricopa, Pai Pai, Halchidhoma, Cocopah, and Kumeyaay. The area is also sacred to the Hopi and Chemehuevi Paiute people.

Castner Range, which borders Franklin Mountains State Park in northern El Paso, commemorates the area’s Indigenous, Latino, and military history and culture. The designation also provides an opportunity to expand the local community’s access to the outdoors. The Department of Defense, which used the area as a munitions range until the 1960s, has committed to restoring the site so that the public can safely enjoy it.

Marcia Argust, director of Pew’s U.S. public lands and rivers conservation project, issued this statement: 

“We applaud President Biden for establishing the Avi Kwa Ame and Castner Range national monuments today. Indigenous leaders, local elected officials, community organizations, veterans, and business leaders in Nevada and Texas came together to support safeguards for these landscapes. President Biden’s monument proclamations honor Indigenous connections to these landscapes, provide communities with more equitable access to nature, celebrate local history and culture, protect wildlife habitat and connectivity, and will boost local economies.”

Connectivity guidance

Also today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality released new guidance for federal agencies to promote the consideration of ecosystem connectivity as part of land, water, and wildlife management decisions. States, Tribes, and federal agencies are increasingly seeking to improve such management based on emerging science about wildlife migrations and fish passage. This new guidance recognizes that ecosystem connectivity is imperative to help ensure that flora, fauna, and habitat are more resilient to increasing temperatures.

Marcia Argust, director of Pew’s U.S. public lands and rivers conservation project, issued this statement: 

“Ecological corridors invariably cross multiple jurisdictional boundaries, often including federal, state, Tribal, or privately owned lands or waters. This new White House guidance provides a critical framework for how federal agencies should collaborate with one another, as well as with Tribes and non-federal stakeholders, in their quest to advance conservation and strong communities in the face of threats to a healthy natural environment.” 

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