Sierra Club Celebrates Designation of Avi Kwa Ame and Castner Range as Newest National Monuments

Monuments Designations Included Among Slew of New Public Lands Protections

Ian Brickey,

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the White House announced President Biden would designate Avi Kwa Ame in Nevada and Castner Range in Texas as the country’s newest national monuments. The designation immediately provides permanent protection for roughly 512,000 acres of Nevada and Texas landscapes that have deep spiritual connections to multiple Tribes, historical importance to numerous communities including veterans, and environmental importance to the region. The administration also announced new protections for South Dakota’s Rapid Creek watershed, including a 20-year ban on mining in the area, safeguarding Tribal cultural sites and drinking water resources, among other protections for public lands and waters.

Avi Kwa Ame, the Mojave name for “Spirit Mountain,” is culturally and religiously significant to 12 Tribes. The 506,000-acre designation, which is greater than initial Tribal requests, will protect a fragile ecosystem that serves as vital habitat for many species, including bighorn sheep and threatened Joshua trees. Castner Range will encompass about 6,600 acres that contain prehistoric habitations and agriculture dating back more than 10,000 years, rare and endangered wildlife, and historic connections to the military and veterans community.

The White House also announced the following actions to conserve and restore lands and waters in the US:

  • A new marine sanctuary, extending the current Pacific Remote Island marine protected area, to cover all the U.S.-controlled waters in that area
  • The first ocean climate action plan, led by three themes: a carbon-free future; nature-based solutions; and community resiliency with traditional and Indigenous communities
  • Wildlife corridors guidance focusing on connectivity
  • A Tribal conservation funding pledge from philanthropies, totaling $93 million
  • A final report on the America the Beautiful for All initiative, as part of the Administration’s commitment to protecting 30% of lands and waters by 2030

In response, Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign senior director Chris Hill released the following statement:

“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.

“Preserving public lands and waters – like Avi Kwa Ame, Castner Range, and Rapid Creek – can be a nature-based solution to taking on climate change, but we cannot save more nature if the federal government continues to approve destructive oil and gas operations like the Willow project. Designating new national monuments and safeguarding public lands from extraction can help us reach important climate goals, provide clean air and water, and expand access to nature for millions. It is through these actions that President Biden can build his monumental legacy.” 

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit