WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: President Biden Champions Conservation, Takes Action to Protect Lands and Waters

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: President Biden Champions Conservation, Takes Action to Protect Lands and Waters

Leaders across the country are celebrating President Biden’s boldest steps to date to protect the power and promise of America’s extraordinary natural wonders. At the White House Conservation in Action Summit this week, President Biden announced action to:

  • Establish two new national monuments, Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada and Castner Range National Monument in Texas, protecting over half a million acres of public lands and honoring Tribal Nations and military veterans.
  • Direct the Secretary of Commerce to immediately consider initiating a new National Marine Sanctuary designation to protect all U.S. waters around the Pacific Remote Islands, a region with a rich ancestral tie to many Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island communities.
  • Take a dozen other new steps to conserve, restore, and expand access to lands and waters across the country, including tens of millions of new investments in conservation efforts.

With these new actions, President Biden is further delivering on the most ambitious land and water conservation agenda in American history and working to meet the first-ever national conservation goal to conserve at least 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.

Leaders from across the country praised the announcements. Here’s what they’re saying:

 Tribal Leaders

Chairman Timothy Williams, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe: “Since the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration, the President has demonstrated the commitment to respect Tribal Nations and our nation-to-nation relationship. Under his leadership we have a seat at the table and we have seen an unprecedented era and opportunity for our Tribal communities. And we are all grateful to the President for taking historic action to combat the climate crisis and conserve and restore our nation’s land and water.” [Remarks, 3/21/23]

Ashley Hemmers, Tribal Administrator for Fort Mojave Tribe: “For my people, we believe that when you come to the Mojave and it speaks to you, then you are automatically going to want to hold it in high regard and so we’ve really taken the approach through our leadership to be able to share that and facilitate that and work with anyone who shares that same vision. When we think about protection, we think of it through a lens of respect, and so if we can teach those things to people who are now moving in this space, then it’s not just ours, the mountain isn’t just for Mojave, it’s for everyone to protect.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Shan Lewis, Vice Chairman, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe: “Avi Kwa Ame is significantly an important part of our community as it is where our tribal creation story begins. Its protection is the equivalent to protecting the existence of the Mojave people and culture itself. This fight for protection has been a priority of our people for generations. As leaders we carry the honor of fighting for the right to protect that which is most sacred to the Mojave people. To be able to offer protection under the status of a monument now not only protects this sacred area but shares it with others in a respectable way.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Colleen Garcia, Councilwoman, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe: “Avi Kwa Ame or Spirit Mountain is of utmost importance to our Community because it is a sacred place where we believe our God Matevilye, his younger brother Mastamho and the original people lived. The original people left images and stories through petroglyphs on the rocks at Avi Kwa Ame. Mastamho brought life to the world, as we know it now, by creating all living things: animals, birds, the river, vegetation, etc. Avi Kwa Ame has a physical and spiritual connection to our Community. Conceptually, Avi Kwa Ame is comparable to Christianity’s most sacred and holy places. For me, personally, Avi Kwa Ame is where my origin began, my roots. I am a traditional Aha Macav (Mojave) elder whose ancestors were the original people who lived at Avi Kwa Ame in the beginning of life on earth. Avi Kwa Ame is the origin of my life yesterday, today and tomorrow. I am connected to Avi Kwa Ame physically and spiritually.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Rafael “Shorty” Gómez, Councilman, Tigua Ysleta Pueblo del Sur: “Castner Range, a beautiful living oasis nested in our beautiful Franklin mountains of our West Texas city of El Paso. This place that means so much to so many, from those who no longer walk among us, to those of us existing today and to those who will come tomorrow. May these lands be protected for all to appreciate and be loved for generations to come.” [Statement, 3/21/23]
Conservation and Climate Advocates

Collin O’Mara, President & CEO, National Wildlife Federation: “National monument status for Avi Kwa Ame will benefit wildlife and people alike as the lands they depend on will be conserved and restored for future generations. In addition, sites of significance for a dozen Tribes in the region will be permanently protected and opportunities for outdoor recreation in Nevada will be expanded. For more than 50 years, community groups in El Paso have fought for protections for Castner Range so that wildlife migration corridors are safeguarded, historic sites dating back 14,000 years preserved, and access to nature is expanded for residents of El Paso and the surrounding area – particularly for those who have traditionally lacked access.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Mark Magaña, Founding President & CEO, GreenLatinos: “Conserving ecosystems in their natural state is the single most effective action for addressing nature deprivation, climate disaster, and the massive ongoing loss of species happening nationwide and globally. These monuments will also provide jobs and associated economic benefits. Today marks a day that President Biden is acting on his commitment to conserve at least 30% of U.S. land and waters by 2030 so more Americans can access the benefits of our natural world.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Janessa Goldbeck, CEO, Vet Voice Foundation: “We want to offer our sincere thanks to President Biden, Secretary Haaland, and others in the administration for today’s designations of Avi Kwa Ame and Castner Range National Monuments. Protecting and expanding our nation’s public lands is the duty of any patriot — veterans understand and military families understand this, President Biden understands this. And we applaud the President, a Blue Star father, for his actions today. We also want to offer our most sincere appreciation for the steadfast support for these campaigns from champions Congresswomen Veronica Escobar and Dina Titus, along with Senators Rosen and Cortez Masto. Thanks to today’s designation, these special places can be enjoyed by veterans and all Americans for generations to come.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Gene Karpinski, President, League of Conservation Voters: “President Biden delivered for the communities who have worked for decades to protect these landscapes and their natural and cultural significance all while expanding access to nature. LCV applauds President Biden, Secretary Haaland, and the entire administration for their commitment to supporting locally led conservation efforts – a vital component of addressing climate change. The Avi Kwa Ame landscape is sacred to 12 Tribes, home to rare wildlife and plants, and full of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. We celebrate with the coalition of Tribal Nations, businesses, recreationists, gateway community residents, and local leaders as well as Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen and Representatives Titus and Lee. Castner Range, an incredible place with significance for Indigenous people, veterans, and the world’s largest binational community, and this monument designation will help ensure the community has access to clean water, protect the area’s endemic rare and endangered species, and preserve fragile lands already surrounded on three sides by development. We celebrate with the community organizations, religious leaders, veteran groups, and Rep. Escobar. We are also pleased the President will initiate the public process to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. If finalized as envisioned, this designation will surpass the administration’s goals to protect 30 percent of our waters by 2030. LCV looks forward to working with partners across the country and the Biden-Harris administration to strengthen protections for additional sites and landscapes, including through the Ocean Climate Action Plan and the guidance on wildlife corridors and connectivity, in the coming months.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Adam Cramer, CEO, Outdoor Alliance: “The Biden administration has taken important steps to advance its conservation vision, and we’re pleased to see the recognition that there’s more work to do. Alongside historic investments in public lands and waters, new national monuments, and an ambitious whole-of-government approach to climate, the administration has evinced a new way of thinking about conservation. People, communities, and equitable and sustainable access to the outdoors has been central to the Biden administration’s approach to conservation. We look forward to continuing to work alongside the administration and leadership at the land management agencies to pursue these critical conservation and recreation priorities.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Anna Peterson, Executive Director, The Mountain Pact: “We are thrilled that President Biden will permanently protect both Avi Kwa Ame and Castner Ranges’ landscapes’ natural, cultural, and historic values by designating them national monuments. The Antiquities Act conserves vital places so our stories can be told and experiences can be shared for generations to come. We celebrate today and tomorrow we will continue to urge President Biden to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect more places with cultural and scientific significance as national monuments.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Marcia Argust, Director of Pew’s U.S. Public Lands and Rivers Conservation Project, Pew Charitable Trusts: “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.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Patrick Gaspard, President & CEO, Center for American Progress: “Today, President Biden took major steps toward his commitment to conserve our most treasured public lands and waters for the benefit of current and future generations. By listening to and supporting community leaders, the president is helping to jump-start the nationwide mission he announced at the start of his presidency to conserve lands and ocean. These two monument designations will help preserve more nature for the benefit of historically underrepresented communities. Protecting both Castner Range and Avi Kwa Ame addresses the problem of nature deprivation that has disproportionately affected people of color and low-income communities. The Avi Kwa Ame monument helps preserve the history, culture, and stories of sacred lands in Nevada and, together with other announcements today from the administration and external partners, represents a major milestone in the Biden administration’s work to support Indigenous-led conservation.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Chris Hill, Our Wild America Campaign Senior Director, Sierra Club: “Avi Kwa Ame and Castner Range are spiritual, cultural, and natural treasures with thousands of years worth of history and legacies worth protecting. Since time immemorial, these two places have had deep connections to the Indigenous peoples of Nevada and Texas, and have been critical parts of the environmental landscapes of their regions. Today’s designations will preserve them for generations to come and add to the stories and legacies we commemorate through public lands, in addition to protecting critical habitats and vulnerable species.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Avi Kwa Ame National Monument

Honor Avi Kwa Ame Coalition: “Since President Biden’s announcement at the Tribal Nations Summit, we have been eager to see the administration follow through and issue an official designation of this sacred land. The President’s action today will safeguard these hundreds of thousands of acres in southern Nevada bearing great cultural, ecological, and economic significance to our state. We are honored and grateful to his leadership and are thrilled to be a part of this historic day. Tribal leaders and members, monument supporters, and the general public made their voices heard in unanimous support of this proposal and the need to safeguard these resources for future generations. Yuman-speaking Tribes believe the mountain is the spiritual birthplace of the tribes – the place where ancient ancestors emerged into this world… Finally, we again express our deepest thanks to President Biden for taking action to protect this land as a new national monument in southern Nevada. Our coalition looks forward to continuing to educate our Nevada community, our elected officials, and the nation about the importance of Avi Kwa Ame, the leadership of those who made this designation possible, and the need for respecting and honoring Indigenous history in the southwest.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Taylor Patterson, Executive Director, Native Voters Alliance Nevada: “We thank President Biden for following through on his promise to protect Avi Kwa Ame and for designating this sacred land. It feels good to finally say ‘Avi Kwa Ame National Monument. This land is considered sacred to Tribes who trace their creation story to this land and it deserves to be protected and those Tribes have been involved in this effort to protect Avi Kwa Ame for years. This is truly a historic day as it signifies a change in posture towards Indigenous people from the federal government than that which we are unfortunately used to by now. It’s with great joy that I once again thank Congresswoman Dina Titus, Congresswoman Susie Lee, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Senator Jacky Rosen, and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for their support and efforts bringing Avi Kwa Ame to the forefront of President Biden’s conservation agenda. Of course, there are still many other special places with deep significance to Tribal nations that deserve the protection Avi Kwa Ame has been given today. But, here in Nevada, we are thrilled to see such a long-fought struggle come to fruition with this new monument. We will continue working alongside leaders in the Biden-Harris administration to ensure sovereign Tribal nations are given a voice in matters that concern their ancestral lands, as we celebrate this historic and incredibly significant event this morning.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Annette Magnus, Executive Director, Institute for a Progressive Nevada. “We are grateful to President Joe Biden for signing today’s proclamation declaring Avi Kwa Ame a brand new national monument in Nevada. Today highlights the importance of our elected leaders giving recognition to Indigenous peoples whose land we now occupy, as well as its environmental importance as a diverse desert plant and animal habitat. Moreover, this designation is a vital measure to extend federal protection for the desert plants and wildlife that blanket the hundreds of thousands of acres comprising the monument, such as the desert Bighorn Sheep, Desert Tortoise, Joshua Trees, and more. We are also looking forward to both locals and tourists alike visiting southern Nevada to recreate outdoors in this new monument, boosting our local outdoor recreation economy, creating jobs, and supporting Nevada communities like those in Searchlight, Boulder City, and Laughlin… With this proclamation, President Biden’s administration has fulfilled a promise to the Indigenous tribes in the region and honored their requested boundaries — and we, and the more than 160,000 supporters who signed the petition supporting the monument, thank him and his administration for heeding the call. We’ll continue to work with Tribal leadership, our coalition and stakeholders to uplift and center indigenous voices in the protection of our public lands and look forward to celebrating a brand new national monument in Nevada. Thanks to President Biden, this is a historic day for the state of Nevada.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Camilla Simon, Executive Director, Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors: “We are pleased that President Biden and the Administration have listened to the request for the urgent protection of Avi Kwa Ame, supported by the Fort Mojave Tribe, local lawmakers, sports-men and women, and the Hispanic community, among many others. This area is sacred to Indigenous Peoples and is vulnerable to energy development proposals. Protecting Avi Kwa Ame means honoring that sacred connection, and choosing a future that values the protection of land, water, wildlife, history, and culture.” [Statement, 3/23/23]

Gwen Lachelt, Executive Director, Western Leaders Network: “My hat is off to the tribes, elected officials, local governments, state legislatures, conservation groups, and other stakeholders who worked tirelessly for decades to make these national monuments a reality. On behalf of our 450 local, tribal and state elected officials, Western Leaders Network thanks President Biden for his leadership in protecting Avi Kwa Ame and the Castner Range for current and future generations through the Antiquities Act.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Jim Stanger, Director, Friends of Sloan Canyon: “Protecting Avi Kwa Ame helps ensure that areas such as Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area do not become biological islands cut off from the wider ecology of the eastern Mojave desert. In the face of future encroaching development, populations such as desert bighorn sheep and others will maintain more of their traditional habitat, traveling in and out of the area with a greater chance to survive and thrive.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Arevia Power: “Arevia Power was a early supporter of the news that Avi Kwa Ame would likely become a National Monument back in December of 2022. With this official declaration and through the leadership of President Biden, Secretary Haaland, Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen, Representatives Titus and Lee and the Fort Mojave Tribal Council, Avi Kwa Ame’s incredible cultural, historical, and biological significance will be recognized and protected. Arevia Power is proud of its history of partnership with Tribal Nations across the West and believes responsible energy developers have a positive role to play in these critical issues.”  [Statement, 3/21/23]

Maite Acre, President & CEO, Hispanic Access Foundation: “We applaud President Biden for listening to Indigenous tribes and protecting Avi Kwa Ame as a national monument. Located in southern Nevada, the 450,000 acres is the ancestral home of 10 Yuman-speaking tribes. The land is rich in both its beauty and history, and now, it can be protected for future generations to come. About 30 percent of Nevada’s population is made up of Latinos. Protecting this public land increases access to nature for its nearby Latino communities, so they can enjoy the benefits of the outdoors. A National Monument will increase recreational opportunities like hiking, stargazing, bird watching, etc. for everyone to enjoy… By establishing the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument, we can ensure that future generations can enjoy and learn from these special places, and more national monuments represent the diverse communities that make this country great.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association: “President Biden’s establishment of Avi Kwa Ame National Monument is a testimony to protecting and preserving lands with not just our children and grandchildren in mind but for generations to come. Avi Kwa Ame National Monument honors the Native Americans who have long called for preservation of their cultural heritage, and we are grateful to the President for taking historic action. Amid the worsening climate crisis, the long-term health of Joshua trees and other plants and wildlife in this region is inextricably linked to conserving critical lands. Avi Kwa Ame National Monument furthers our country’s desert conservation legacy and connects a vibrant, rich landscape that stretches from Lake Mead in Nevada to Mojave National Preserve, encompassing other treasured California desert parks.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Jose Witt, Mojave Desert Landscape Director, The Wilderness Society: “We are excited to see the Biden administration prepare to follow through on their promise to designate Avi Kwa Ame National Monument. This monument will secure rich, diverse wildlife habitat, including that of the threatened Desert Tortoise. Additionally, these protections will expand wildlife connectivity within the region, helping other iconic desert species, like bighorn sheep and mule deer, adapt to the challenges of habitat fragmentation and climate change. We applaud the administration for their continued commitment to protecting Nevada’s wildlife for future generations.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Sara Husby, Executive Director, Great Old Broads for Wilderness: “Great Old Broads for Wilderness is honored to support the protection of a landscape that is not only sacred to several Tribes in the region, it also creates a vital connection to other protected areas and provides vital habitat benefiting wildlife, plants, and fragile ecosystems. This monument designation, similar to Bears Ears, is another contribution to the current movement honoring Native American ancestral lands, and further preserves the unique beauty of the Mojave Desert.”  [Statement, 3/21/23]

Kevin Emmerich, Co-Founder, Basin and Range Watch: “We have been working with tribal members across Nevada and California, from Ivanpah Valley to Chuckwalla Valley and along the lower Colorado River to support their push to protect important cultural landscapes in the region, including the Salt Song Trail, and the viewsheds around Spirit Mountain. We were pleased to see this National Monument designated and are happy that our work to prevent industrial wind energy development on monument lands was so successful.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks: “The designation of the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument and the protection of this sacred landscape is an important contribution to the preservation of Native American ancestral lands. This national monument designation will help to protect hundreds of thousands of acres of land in the Mojave Desert that are rich in biodiversity, history, and culture.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Castner Range National Monument

Janaé Reneaud Field, Castner Range Coalition and Executive Director, The Frontera Land Alliance: “This expected designation from President Biden will honor the 52 years of El Pasoans, Texans and people around the country fighting for the conservation of Castner Range – to say we’re excited is an understatement. We are incredibly thankful to President Biden for the designation of Castner Range National Monument and thankful to the thousands of El Pasoans who have worked so long and so hard to make this happen. Preserving Castner Range is about equity through open space preservation and respect for the residents of El Paso, and we are thankful that Castner Range will now be protected for generations of El Pasoans.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

El Paso Matters: “For a decade, El Pasoans have been fighting to protect culturally historic and environmentally sensitive land in Northeast El Paso’s Franklin Mountains. Today, that fight will result in the creation of Castner Range National Monument.” [Tweet, 3/21/23]

Eric Pearson, President & CEO, El Paso Community Foundation: “This is a real victory of perseverance for the region and we thank President Biden for his leadership in making this happen. Now we can get the real work of interpretation and narrative around Castner Range, providing access and context at the same time.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Scott Cutler, Founding Member, Frontera Land Alliance: “The Frontera Land Alliance and the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition have been working for decades for the conservation of Castner Range. Today is a great achievement that will benefit the community, region, and nation for generations to come. We thank the Biden Administration for taking this step and commitment to El Paos and our future.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Moses Borjas, Pastor, Living Covenant Church in El Paso & Leader, Por la Creación: “This is great news to all El Pasoans and especially those who have for many years advocated to see Castner Range become a National Monument. The challenges that our city has faced — poverty, pollution, inequality, climate change — are the results of broken relationships. The designation of Castner Range as a National Monument adds to the healing process that our city needs in these times. Protecting Castner Range is not only protecting our mountains and wildlife, but it’s protecting our history, heritage and our legacy. Thank you President Biden for providing this opportunity for our community to find healing through our natural spaces.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Marshall Carter-Tripp, Board Member, Frontera Land Alliance: “I am grateful to President Biden for the long-awaited designation of Castner Range as a National Monument. Castner Range is not only a beautiful section of the Franklin Mountains but a repository of much history, including that of Native Americans who lived in this region before the European settlers arrived. And it is home to a magnificent spread of Mexican poppies in the spring!” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Ángel Peña, Executive Director, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project: “Border communities thank President Biden and Rep. Veronica Escobar for her leadership in leading the proper protection of one of El Paso’s most iconic and intact Chihuahuan Desert landscapes. The designation of the Castner Range National Monument is of great significance to frontera residents. The protection of the Castner Range will ensure that fronterizos have the opportunity to find solace, comfort and equitable access to the outdoors, right here in our community. This monument proposal recognizes just how intertwined our public lands and the environment are with issues centered around justice, race and equity. As an organization born on the border, Nuestra Tierra thanks the Biden and Harris Administration for this momentous step in the forward direction.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Richard Teschner, Author and Conservationist: “Many things distinguish El Paso from cities like Midland and Odessa, but the main thing is our Franklin Mountains. Yet, 25 percent of the Franklins — the part within the boundaries of Castner Range — had still not been conserved. But now, almost all of the Franklins are conserved by our wonderful new Castner Range National Monument! I’m thankful that President Biden has seen what El Pasoans know is a treasure for West Texas and has taken steps to protect Castner Range.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Camilla Simon, Executive Director, HECHO: “We are very excited to learn that President Biden has finally used his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate the Castner Range National Monument. The local community has advocated long and hard for this day, and today we celebrate this victory with them. The monument designation increases access to and protects a unique mountain range in a highly urban area, and will benefit people from all economic backgrounds while reflecting and honoring the local communities and the history and culture of those who live there. Community advocates in El Paso have sought protection and public access to this landscape for decades. The campaign that supported Castner Range’s designation included community leaders from the region who genuinely represent the borderlands.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Maite Arce, President & CEO, Hispanic Access Foundation: “The challenges that our city has faced — such as poverty, pollution, inequality, climate change — are the results of broken relationships. Protecting Castner Range is not only protecting our mountains and wildlife but it’s protecting our history, heritage and our legacy.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks: “The designation of the Castner Range National Monument will protect an unspoiled landscape that is home to diverse vegetation and wildlife, as well as archaeological and historical resources that date back thousands of years. It will also provide more equitable outdoor access to a local community that has passionately supported a national monument designation for Castner Range. We thank President Biden for this action today, and we encourage the administration to continue to strengthen their conservation legacy – and push hard towards the goals laid out in the 30 x 30 initiative – by using the Antiquities Act to establish protections for other culturally and naturally significant spaces.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Karina Martinez, Director of Communications, Corazon Latino: “The Biden Administration has taken a critical step towards honoring our sacred sites, preserving our nation’s history, and protecting our natural resources by designating Avi Kwa Ame and Castner Range as national monuments. We are proud that hundreds of thousands of acres of land will be safeguarded through this designation, allowing us to continue to build our bond with Madre Tierra at these unique sites. We will continue to cherish and guard these areas to ensure their respectful use, the protection of endangered wildlife, and their proper resource management. Our future generations will remember and thank us for preserving this special inheritance for them.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Pacific Remote Islands and Ocean Climate Action Plan

Jonee Peters, Executive Director, Conservation Council for Hawai’i: “Mahalo to President Biden for his support in protections of the Pacific Remote Islands. With his support, this action ensures a healthy marine ecosystem of native species, corals, seabirds, and all of the marine ‘ohana that support the perpetuation of traditional voyaging practices in Oceania. Furthermore, I am grateful for his recognition of the bravery and sacrifices made by the Hui Panalāʻau.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Lisa Frank, Legislative Office Director, Environment America: “We’re fortunate to have some of the most pristine ocean ecosystems around the Pacific Remote Islands, but as our oceans heat up, acidify and face threats from plastic pollution to overfishing and drilling, we need to do more to safeguard our seas. Today’s announcement is a great step toward expanding ocean protections in the tropical Pacific.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Shannon Colbert, Vice President of External Affairs, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation: “The waters surrounding the Pacific Remote Islands contain a multitude of natural and cultural wonders across nearly 500,000 square miles of breathtaking beauty above and below the surface. We are pleased the Biden Administration is listening to the Indigenous, Native Hawaiian, and local communities that are calling for protection of this special place as part of the National Marine Sanctuary System. Sanctuary designation would protect sites that are important to the preservation and prosperity of Indigenous cultures as well as habitat for threatened and endangered species including sharks, turtles, seabirds, whales, manta rays, and more. Some endemic species in these waters are found nowhere else on Earth.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Dr. Lance Morgan, President, Marine Conservation Institute: “The administration’s announcement today at the Conservation in Action Summit that it will propose a new national marine sanctuary around the existing Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument out to the limits of the US Exclusive Economic Zone is an exciting and important decision for several reasons. A new sanctuary covering the ocean around these islands out to the 200-mile limit will provide protection for wondrous marine life, large seabird populations, migrating and nesting sea turtles and the numerous underwater seamounts found in these areas. The proposal would also contribute to achieving the President’s goal of conserving 30% of US lands and waters by 2030. But to achieve the high level of conservation needed to protect marine life and restore our ocean the proposed sanctuary must provide a high level of protection and eliminate commercial fishing in line with the existing marine national monument. We have been working with NOAA and Fish and Wildlife Service for over a decade to create a management plan for the Pacific Islands monument and the addition of the Sanctuary program’s management expertise will create a strong template to model protections for other marine sanctuaries in US waters.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Amy Kenney, Executive Director, National Ocean Protection Coalition: “The National Ocean Protection Coalition applauds President Biden’s commitment to initiate the designation process for a new national marine sanctuary protecting all U.S. waters around the Pacific Remote Islands and the release of the first-ever Ocean Climate Action Plan. Together, these announcements are an important acknowledgement of the ocean’s role in tackling the twin biodiversity and climate crises. They represent important milestones that help chart the course toward meaningful ocean climate action. We commend the Administration’s actions and look forward to working together to support this important work in the months ahead.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Kim McIntyre, Executive Director, Aquarium Conservation Partnership: “The Aquarium Conservation Partnership celebrates the release of the first-ever Ocean Climate Action Plan and President Biden’s commitment to expand protections for all Pacific Remote Islands and their surrounding waters while including excluded voices throughout the process. These actions will help meet U.S. targets to achieve a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and protect 30% of our lands and waters by 2030. We must look to the ocean for solutions by embracing equity and amplifying all voices who want to work towards eliminating our biodiversity and climate crises.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Marce Gutierrez-Graudins, Executive Director, Azul: “Today, the first-ever U.S. Ocean Climate Action Plan was released by the Biden Administration. This groundbreaking roadmap acknowledges the ocean’s power as a vital tool in the fight against climate change. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration to implement this plan and ensure we center equity at every step. To succeed, the administration must not only harness the power of the ocean to fight the climate crisis; it must also protect the communities carrying the burden of inaction in the face of climate change.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Tegan Hoffman, Executive Director, Coastal Quest: “Coastal Quest celebrates the Biden Administration’s leadership to protect our nation’s ocean and coasts. The President’s commitment to increase protections for the Pacific Remote Islands and the release of the first-ever U.S. Ocean Climate Action Plan represent an important acknowledgement of the role of the ocean and coast in tackling the twin biodiversity and climate crises. The Ocean Climate Action Plan is America’s first-of-its-kind, whole-of-government plan to reach the Administration’s ambitious ocean climate goals and the coast is a critical part of the solution.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Conservation International: “Conservation International supports President Biden’s direction for the Secretary of Commerce to consider initiating a new National Marine Sanctuary designation to protect all U.S. waters around the Pacific Remote Islands (PRI). The oceans are the key life support system on Earth. And seamounts, like the ones found in the waters surrounding the PRI, are home to a diversity of marine life – from huge schools of tuna to unique forms of life found nowhere else – making this region an extremely high priority for protection. In addition, the White House Conservation in Action Summit saw the Biden Administration release the first-ever, whole-of-government Ocean Climate Action Plan.” [Tweet, 3/21/23]

Wendy Wendlandt, President, Environment America: “America the Beautiful is full of wondrous places and protecting them is part of our identity as Americans. President Biden is on track to leave a significant legacy on conservation with his plan to protect 30 percent of our lands and oceans by 2030. We’re happy to celebrate Conservation Day with such a monumental proclamation.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Mark Perry, Executive Director and CEO, Florida Oceanographic Society: “Florida Oceanographic Society is encouraged by the Biden Administration’s release of the Ocean Climate Action Plan. As a coastal organization in Southeast Florida, climate impacts are a current reality and pose increasing future threats. Our research, education, and advocacy efforts are reflected in this plan, particularly the emphasis on blue carbon ecosystem protection, research, and restoration as well as coastal climate resilience. We look forward to implementation efforts that transform this plan into action and results.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Sarah Winter Whelan, Executive Director, Healthy Ocean Coalition: “The Healthy Ocean Coalition is thrilled by today’s release of the Ocean Climate Action Plan and the intention to increase protections for some of our planet’s most important ocean ecosystems. It was incredibly heartening to hear federal leaders recognize that the worst impacts of the climate crisis cannot be mitigated or reversed without seeing and treating the ocean as the champion that it is while centering equity and justice. The HOC looks forward to helping ensure implementation of the Ocean Climate Action Plan holds to those ideals.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Lance Kittel, Executive Director, Inland Ocean Coalition: “The Inland Ocean Coalition supports and celebrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s announcement of an Ocean Climate Action Plan to best inform immediate steps to protect our planet’s most valuable resource. These commitments, among others, are hugely influential and beneficial for our marine ecosystem. The administration continues to demonstrate leadership and initiative and we are eager to further develop a sustainable and resilient future for our ocean.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Amy Kenney, Executive Director, National Ocean Protection Coalition: “The National Ocean Protection Coalition applauds President Biden’s commitment to initiate the designation process for a new national marine sanctuary protecting all U.S. waters around the Pacific Remote Islands and the release of the first-ever Ocean Climate Action Plan. Together, these announcements are an important acknowledgement of the ocean’s role in tackling the twin biodiversity and climate crises. They represent important milestones that help chart the course toward meaningful ocean climate action. We commend the Administration’s actions and look forward to working together to support this important work in the months ahead.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Christy Goldfuss, Chief Policy Impact Officer, Natural Resources Defense Council: “The Biden Administration’s bold, inclusive conservation vision for our lands and waters will set us on the right path to fight the climate and nature crises. The Ocean Climate Action Plan marks a new perspective on ocean management and an important and necessary step by the Biden Administration. The plan harnesses the power of the ocean to fight climate change and enhance the resilience of marine ecosystems to climate stresses. This week’s IPCC report is a sobering reminder that we must do everything in our power to address the climate and biodiversity crises. For this ocean plan to reflect the climate strategy the planet needs, it must also end new offshore oil and gas drilling off our coasts. In other areas the plan does target for action, like marine carbon removal and storage, a cautious approach is warranted to prevent repeating ocean and community health stewardship mistakes of the past.” [Statement, 3/22/23]

Vikki N. Spruill, President and CEO, New England Aquarium: “New steps taken by the Biden-Harris Administration to protect ocean health and further a responsible blue economy will empower the United States to tackle the climate crisis and increasing loss of marine biodiversity. Now is the time to mobilize around the blue economy of the future: one where the ocean’s resources are used to meet our clean energy and food security needs, while safeguarding marine life and critical habitats, as well as coastlines and communities. The New England Aquarium looks forward to working with the Administration as it fulfills its commitments to engage local stakeholders, support communities, and protect the ocean.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Anna-Marie Laura, Senior Director of Climate Policy, Ocean Conservancy: “We at Ocean Conservancy are thrilled to finally see a national-level plan detailing how the U.S. can harness the ocean’s potential to provide climate solutions and protect coastal communities from climate change impacts. By releasing a first of its kind Ocean Climate Action Plan, the Biden Administration is reorganizing often siloed agency efforts into a concrete action plan that puts the ocean at the forefront of climate policy where it needs to be. We’re very excited to see over 200 specific recommendations for future ocean climate action and look forward to working with the Administration to make sure it follows through on its plan and the Biden Administration’s existing promise to advance environmental justice. As we continue to address climate change, we must make sure the long-term wellbeing of the ocean and everyone who relies on it remains the guiding principle.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Jean Flemma, Director, Ocean Defense Initiative: “This Ocean Climate Action Plan is the first comprehensive approach that the U.S. has taken to leveraging the power of the ocean in the fight against climate change. The plan should inspire a ripple effect of powerful climate actions from coast-to-coast that will slash emissions and help frontline communities. Still, a plan is only as strong as its implementation. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration to ensure strong ocean climate action policies are adopted across federal agencies and help the communities that need it most.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Lara Croushore, Managing Director, Urban Ocean Lab: “Urban Ocean Lab welcomes the release of the first-ever, whole-of-government Ocean Climate Action Plan. It will be an important aspect of the Biden Administration’s efforts to address the climate crisis and its impacts on the health and safety of coastal cities and communities. In the U.S., 65 million people live in coastal cities. Storms, flooding, rising seas and erosion fueled by climate change have already led to a considerable loss of life and billions of dollars of damage in coastal cities—disproportionately impacting historically-disadvantaged communities. While coastal cities have high exposure to climate risks, they also play an important role in developing equitable and just ocean-climate solutions that benefit lives and livelihoods, and coastal economies and ecosystems. The Ocean Climate Action Plan sets the stage for coastal cities to help catalyze transformative ocean-climate action. Urban Ocean Lab looks forward to working with coastal city leaders and the Ocean Policy Committee to support these solutions with ocean justice in mind.” [Statement, 3/21/23]
Elected Officials

Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto: “Avi Kwa Ame is a sacred and stunning landscape, and I’m thrilled to celebrate its official designation with the Tribal nations and conservation advocates who helped make this happen. Nevada’s newest National Monument is an important step for preserving our cultural heritage, honoring sacred Tribal sites, and helping our families enjoy our great outdoor landscapes.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen: “Today’s designation will preserve and protect an area of great cultural significance to Tribal nations for generations to come. This sacred land is rich with natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and immense ecological importance. As a firm and strong supporter of the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument, it was an honor to join so many Nevadans to celebrate the permanent protection of this land.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, Ranking Member, House Natural Resources Committee: “Today’s designations of Avi Kwa Ame and Castner Range National Monuments are unquestionably major wins for conservation, but they are also huge victories for including tribal voices in our public lands decisions. Tribal consultation and Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge should continue to be put at the forefront of federal decision-making, especially when it comes to protecting and respecting the ancestral homelands and cultural resources of Indigenous Peoples. I’m also pleased to see that this administration understands that our oceans—which absorb a quarter of all carbon pollution—are a critical component in our fight against climate change. The Biden administration’s plan to protect our oceans and coastal habitats is the kind of bold action we need to reach our climate goals before our ‘rapidly closing window of opportunity’ shuts for good.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Nevada Congresswomen Dina Titus: “One cannot overstate the importance of the sacred land of Avi Kwa Ame to Southern Nevada’s native tribes. And for the Yuman speakers and the Hopi and Chemehuevi Paiute who place it at the center of all creation, along with every Nevadan who knows the value of our cherished public lands, designating Spirit Mountain as a national monument will protect this treasured space for future generations. Having led the charge to protect Gold Butte, Basin and Range, and Tule Springs Fossil Beds, I’ve been proud to work with indigenous leaders, environmental champions, and grassroots organizations across Nevada to keep our public lands safe. Without their unflinching dedication over many years this would not have happened. I’m hugely grateful that President Biden and Interior Secretary Haaland have heeded our call to permanently protect Avi Kwa Ame.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Nevada Congresswoman Susie Lee: “For over a year, I’ve stood alongside environmental advocates and tribal leaders in calling for Avi Kwa Ame to become our nation’s next national monument. Today, we have made that dream a reality. To the activists and advocates who started this movement, and to this Administration for taking the final steps today in making history, thank you. This land holds immense cultural, recreational, and ecological value. Today’s action honors our commitment to the 12 tribes who consider these lands to be sacred and the abundance of diverse ecological treasures they encompass.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Texas Congresswomen Veronica Escobar: “I’m absolutely thrilled about the designation. Today’s historic announcement has been decades in the making. Generations of activists have dedicated countless hours and resources toward achieving this once seemingly impossible goal. It brings me such joy to know that El Pasoans will soon be able to enjoy the beauty of this majestic, expansive landmark for years to come.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

Texas Congressman Colin Allred: “Protecting and expanding our public lands is our responsibility and @POTUS’s designation of Castner Range National Monument in El Paso will help ensure we preserve it for decades to come.” [Tweet, 3/21/23]

Hawaii Congressman Ed Case: “Great news for protecting our world’s oceans! President Biden has adopted our proposal to advance full marine sanctuary status for the pristine and fragile waters of the U.S. Pacific Remote Islands.” [Twitter, 3/21/23]

Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke: “Castner Range becomes a National Monument today! 10,000 years of human history in one of the most beautiful places on the planet will now be preserved forever. THANK YOU President Biden, Rep. Escobar and the El Paso community (Judy Ackerman, I know you’re smiling up there)!” [Tweet, 3/21/23]

Michael Naft, Commissioner, Clark County, Nevada: “We are grateful President Biden has designated Avi Kwa Ame National Monument today. This area in Clark County is rich in both history, wildlife, and beauty. For years, Tribes, local elected officials, community leaders, and businesses have supported the creation of a national monument because protecting the area is both the right thing to do but also the economically beneficial approach. Nearby communities like Searchlight and Laughlin will benefit from the financial impact of achieving monument status.” [Statement, 3/21/23]

El Paso City Council Representative Isabel Salcido: “Castner Range becomes a designated National Monument! Thank you to President Biden, Congresswoman Escobar, the late Judy Ackerman (we miss you) and all the amazing El Pasoans who for decades advocated to make this happen. This action will protect the cultural, scientific and historic objects found within the monument’s boundaries, honor our veterans, servicemembers, and Tribal Nations, and expand access to outdoor recreation on our public lands.” [Tweet, 3/21/23]