The granite summit of Spirit Mountain in the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument, Nevada. Photo George Wuerthner 

President Biden appears ready to designate the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in southern Nevada.

The monument will protect almost a half million acres of the Mohave Desert between the California border and the Colorado River. Stretching from the Newberry mountains in the east to the New York, South McCullough, Castle, and Piute mountains in the west, the monument encompasses representative landscapes of grasslands, Joshua trees, and in places, even scrub oak. Wildlife native to the area includes desert bighorn sheep, Gila monster, and desert tortoises,

Desert Bighorn Sheep ram. Photo George Wuerthner

It would connect other protected landscapes in California, such as Mohave Trails National Monument and Mohave National Preserve, with the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada, creating a corridor for wildlife to move more freely across the landscape. The area within the proposed monument also includes and/or borders several designated southern Nevada wildernesses, including Spirit Mountain, Nellis Wash, Wee Thump Joshua Tree, Bridge Canyon, Ireteba Peaks, and South McCullough wilderness areas.

Blue on map is the proposed national monument.

At a meeting in Washington DC with tribal leaders Biden said he intended to designate a 450,000-acre national monument. The monument has the support of numerous local tribes, politicians, community leaders, and conservation groups.

The area is an essential cultural region to numerous tribes from the region, and the Fort Yuma tribe was able to get Avi Kwa Ame listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places as a traditional cultural property in 1999. In addition, national Monument status would codify and expand the protection of the landscape.

Ten Yuman-speaking tribes across the Colorado River Basin, including the Mojave, Hualapai, Yavapai, Havasupai, Quechan, Maricopa, Pai Pai, Halchidhoma, Cocopah, and Kumeyaay, support the monument designation.

Joshua tree in Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness. Photo George Wuerthner

The Clark County Commissioners unanimously supported the designation of a national monument. In addition, small communities near the proposed monument, including Boulder City Council, the Searchlight Town Advisory Board, and the Laughlin Town Advisory Board, have all approved resolutions supporting the designation.

Representative Dina Titus, Democrat of Nevada, introduced a resolution in February to establish Avi Kthe Kwa Ame as a national monument.

With such broad support, one would hope that Biden would act to establish the national monument.

With increasing inappropriate solar development on federal lands (all solar should be done on rooftops and previously degraded lands like alfalfa fields), the designation of the Avi Kwa Ame NM could ensure that such development is not implemented in this area.

The federal government currently has identified millions of acres of public lands in Nevada for potential large-scale energy development, including 9 million for large-scale solar development and nearly 16.8 million for possible wind development.

To put this into perspective, the combined 25.8 million acres open for “green” development is larger than the entire state of Maine. Biden could do more to preclude such development on public lands. There is more than enough private land, especially existing Ag lands like irrigated hay/alfalfa fields, that could be converted to such energy production without the necessity of degrading existing public lands so critical to biodiversity and ecosystem function.

Wildflower bloom in the proposed national monument. Photo George Wuerthner

National Monuments can be established by Presidential decree. But, so far, Biden is lagging well behind other presidents in the acreage and number of national monuments he has created. Although he restored the original boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments in Utah and created Camp Hale NM in Colorado, other Presidents have done considerably more to preserve America’s wildlands. President Obama, for instance, designated 38 national monuments during his presidency.

It is unclear yet which federal agency might administer an Avi Kwa Ame National Monument. Still, the National Park Service is the best candidate since they have a mission more aligned with the monument’s biodiversity and cultural preservation goals.

How well national monument designation will protect the values articulated above will depend on the details.

It is hoped that the designation of Avi Kwa Ame as a national monument will be only the beginning of his administration’s commitment to protecting 30 percent of the US land and waters by 2030.

About The Author

George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

42 Responses to President Biden Set to Designate Avi Kwa Ame National Monument

  1. Patricia Randolph says:

    Protection of land, air and water OR does it include protection of wildlife from human destruction? And I mean not just farming animal destruction, but hunting, trapping, and, if there are wild horses or burros, rounding them up and destroying them, too. American Indians like wolves but are not so kind to other wild creatures. With 60% of mammals on earth livestock, 36% humans and only 4% all the wild mammals of all other species – we need to include our wildlife in protection.

    • Ron Kozan says:

      American Indians like wolves?????
      More blanket statements.

      Look at a map of Montana wolf packs and then lay a map of Montana reservations over the top. Let me know what you learn.

      OH let me help…reservations are wolf voids because many Native Amerian people hate wolves and what they do to wildlife and domestic animals.

      I find it interesting you label wild horses and burros as wildlife. They are escaped domestic livestock. They are no more wildlife than feral hogs.

    • Ralph Maughan says:

      Patricia,

      On state and federal lands (most of this new national monument), wildlife is usually managed by the state wildlife agency. In this case it is “The Nevada Department of Wildlife.” The federal government often throws in some federal funds from the Dingell- Johnson Act and the Pittman-Robertson Act, as does the state via these laws.
      As far as hunting and sportfishing goes, the states in general manage it on all lands. This includes even most private lands.

      There are also millions of acres of federal lands in national wildlife refuges –“NWRs” — where the federal government does most of the fish and wildlife work. Nevada has some very large refuges NWRs. There are more than ten of these NWR’s in Nevada.

      Nevada, of course is not a state with a lot of fishing.

      This new area is a national monument. These are often mostly closed to hunting.

  2. Jean Brocklebank says:

    If the BLM becomes the management agency for Avi Kwa Ame, then the fragile desert will be overrun with mountain biking destruction unless it is prohibited.

    Here on the Central California Coast, the Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument (BLM) has already had 19 miles of trail built by the local mountain biking organization, with more to come. Bow hunting is being considered. Parking lots for the millions of anticipated visitors are being built. They didn’t even bother with a baseline inventory of wildlife before they set the bulldozers loose.

    • Chris Zinda says:

      Wreckreation of all forms is a virtue. You will see few conservationists complain, too busy using the “wreckreation economy” as a cudgel in exchange for the support of “protection”(whatever that means).

  3. GPC says:

    Then there’s this. Again, George, you nailed it

    https://theintercept.com/2022/12/03/climate-biodiversity-green-energy/

    • Jeff Hoffman says:

      Real environmentalists don’t obsess on global warming to the exclusion of all else. The extinction crisis is a bigger problem right now than global warming. Not to mention that the ONLY solutions to global warming or any other environmental or ecological problem are major reductions in human population and consumption, including a total cessation of consumption of things like trees, fossil fuels, and farmed meat.

    • Ida Lupine says:

      Absolutely! My concern exactly.

    • Maggie Frazier says:

      I read this – sure makes sense to me!

    • Chris Zinda says:

      Ketcham’s mentions conservation/ist nine times.

      Preservation/ist zero.

      Conservation (wise use) will never preserve any biodiversity, maybe only delay extinction.

      While his piece correctly identified the problem of climate v. habitat fragmentation, it doesn’t identify the real problem: we preserve nothing because environmentalists are not preservationists. One just need to look at Wilderness Areas, its legislative mandate of preservation and being overrun with wreckreationists who are largely conservationists expending carbon to travel and harass wildlife.

      Until the problem of both land management and advocates lacking a preservation ethic is addressed (forced into “protection conservationists” faces; eg GW), nothing will change and extinction tourism will become more of a virtue.

      • Jeff Hoffman says:

        I fully agree that because of the almost total human destruction of the natural world and the killing of the majority of megafauna there, some areas should be preserved, and off-limits to humans would be best. However, you take this to the extreme.

        Life is change, among other things. I realize that people who advocate human activities that harm or destroy habitats and ecosystems, and/or kill or harm native wildlife, use that as an excuse, but humans can live naturally on the land as hunter-gatherers without harming anything. Species evolve, species become extinct naturally — nowhere near the level of human-caused extinctions, but extinction IS natural — and trying to preserve land in a certain state is also unnatural.

        My point is that conservation, done properly, would be just fine. Hunter-gatherers conserve, they don’t try to preserve.

        BTW, I think that most people here mean “preservation” when they write “conservation.” Unless someone is advocating unnatural harmful human activity, I don’t see an issue here.

        • Chris Zinda says:

          I find it disheartening that during the sixth mass extinction people (conservationists) not only believe humans have a natural right to everywhere/thing but believe preserving habitats (no human use during never ending human population growth) for those species going extinct is extreme.

          The environmental movement is exactly as Ketcham writes, and he needs to expand the climate thesis to conservation itself.

          • Jeff Hoffman says:

            I said, “some areas should be preserved, and off-limits to humans would be best.” What about that statement don’t you get? We agree that some areas should be off limits to humans. Ideally, humans would only live in the tropics, because we evolved there and living elsewhere causes us to cause harms by having to wear clothing and create artificial heat, in addition to killing animals like whales that are not natural prey animals and should never be killed by humans. So we probably agree on all that also.

            My comment was because of your obsession with the use of the term “conservation.” As I said, hunter-gatherers are conservationists, and their land and the species who live there are in good shape, so what’s wrong with that?

        • Patricia Randolph says:

          Hunter gatherers? Really – more rationalization of using/torturing/killing animals. What don’t you get about fellow mortals having the same desire to live out their lives like almighty humans wish to live out theirs? Hunter gatherers EXPLOIT other living beings for their own benefit and there is nothing good about it. Maybe a thousand years ago, hunter gatherers could be rationalized but not now.

          • Jeff Hoffman says:

            All animals, regardless of species, have to kill to eat. All species but humans are hunters and/or gatherers, and humans were also for 95% of our existence. 10-12,000 years ago, humans began using agriculture, which destroys ecosystems, and which kills far more than hunter-gatherers do, starting with the native plants it kills in order t5o plant crops. Agriculture and hunting/gathering are the only two known methods of getting food.

            “Hunter gatherers EXPLOIT other living beings for their own benefit …” This comment makes absolutely no sense. Hunter-gatherers don’t exploit anything, they hunt and gather food. Only agricultural and industrial humans exploit.

            • Chris Zinda says:

              This tired paleo-modern view is outdated, as though the planet’s population can today just hunt and gather our way to nirvana. It’s not so “deep green”.

              Philosophers through time have pondered the morals of meat. Jeff sounds more like Descartes than Buddha.

              • Jeff Hoffman says:

                I never said that we should immediately switch from agriculture to hunting & gathering. That change would probably take 5-10,000 years, and would require things like major reductions of human and domestic animal populations, combined with a major population increase for native non-humans.

                I don’t support paleo anything, but you’re apparently so triggered by my mention of hunter-gatherers that you falsely assumed that this is where I’m coming from. It’s not, not even close. A friend got into the paleo diet a few years ago when it was a fad, and he was eating meat all the time. That’s very environmentally and ecologically harmful and not at all healthy. Hunter-gatherers don’t eat meat every meal or even every day, because most hunts in nature are unsuccessful. I’d say that once/week at most, and probably less, is a proper amount of meat-eating.

                There are no more “morals of meat” than there are morals of plants, morals of water, or morals of air. An Apache/Yaqui friend explained it best when he said that you’ll never find a traditional indigenous culture that’s vegetarian, BECAUSE WE DON’T DISCRIMINATE AGAINST SPECIES (i.e., plants). I couldn’t agree more. I am a Buddhist to a large extent, but I see no reason to avoid eating wild meat in a natural setting. (We’re very far from living in a natural setting, so I use eggs from pasture-raised chickens for my vitamin B-12, which is the only thing humans need meat for). We all kill to eat so that we can live, and it makes no difference whether we kill plants or animals.

  4. Jeff Hoffman says:

    This phony “green” energy cult (no such thing as green energy, BTW) is quickly becoming one of the biggest and worst environmental and ecological problems on the planet. Read Bright Green Lies by Derrick Jensen for details.

  5. Ida Lupine says:

    “With increasing inappropriate solar development on federal lands (all solar should be done on rooftops and previously degraded lands like alfalfa fields), the designation of the Avi Kwa Ame NM could ensure that such development is not implemented in this area.”

    Yes!

    Just the words I was looking for. Good news if this goes through!

    • Ron Kozan says:

      “previously degraded lands like alfalfa fields”

      Clearly some people don’t understand alfalfa fields are some on the most productive soils on the planet.

      • Chris Zinda says:

        That used to be more productive biologically than the wasteful water consuming monoculture of alfalfa.

        Ron sounds like William Pendley, someone straight from the MSLF.

        • Ron Kozan says:

          My comment was about the soil… let me know how putting solar panels on that land increases your biological productivity.

          • Chris Zinda says:

            I’d rather solar on my roof where it belongs.

            Let me know when you fully grasp the politics and economics surrounding solar, as you and I might agree more than disagree regarding their siting on any biologically “productive” land.

      • Jeff Hoffman says:

        Clearly some people don’t understand that non-native plants like crops are destructive to native ecosystems and the native plants and animals who live there. Clearly some people don’t understand ecology or wildlife biology. Etc.

        • Ron Kozan says:

          Clearly you prefer solar panel ecosystems and have never been in a alfalfa field. In many areas native wildlife love alfalfa fields better food value and it’s available for a longer part of the season. All depends on what part of the planet you want to talk about.
          You never fail to make a blanket statement.

          • Jeff Hoffman says:

            Your response is totally irrelevant. I never said anything about solar panels, and I strongly oppose putting them anywhere except on roofs of buildings.

            ALL non-native plants are bad for native ecosystems. Whether native wildlife like the plants is irrelevant. I like chocolate cake, doesn’t mean it’s good for me. Additionally, ecology is about balance, not whether some native animals like a non-native plant. The native plants that were killed to plant the non-native plant certainly don’t like it. My previous comment stands.

            • Ron Kozan says:

              LOL The entire quote had to do with solar panels sorry about your ability to follow the conversation.

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey