Issue: Wild Lands
Partners: Basin and Range Watch, Mojave Desert Land Trust
Flights over the Chuckwalla Bench with staff from congressional offices, Mojave Desert Land Trust and Native American Land Conservancy educated legislators about efforts to protect the area through wilderness or national monument designation. Flights highlighted historic WWII training sites and areas of critical environmental concern that are threatened by proposed changes to the DRECP.
Chuckwalla Bench is home to desert forests, cinder cones and spectacular cactus gardens, and summer monsoons bring the area to life. Interlacing channels and canyons filled with ironwood, Palo Verde trees, bunchgrasses, and ocotillo separate expanses of “desert pavement.” The area is one of the largest and most intact tortoise habitats in the California Desert and contains historic World War II training sites and is home to the endemic Munz’s Cholla – California’s largest cactus.
The Bench remains a largely intact ecosystem because of its early recognition as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern. But that could be at-risk under possible changes to the Desert Renewable Energy and Conservation Plan (DRECP). A coalition of environmental groups is working to create stronger and lasting environmental protections through wilderness or national monument designation.