November 13, 2023
President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
I write on behalf of more than 2,500 members of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks (Coalition), who collectively represent some 45,000 years of national park management experience. The Coalition studies, educates, speaks, and acts for the preservation of America’s National Park System. Among our members are former NPS directors, regional directors, superintendents, resource specialists, park rangers, maintenance and administrative staff, and a full array of other former employees, volunteers, and supporters.
The Coalition supports the Pit River Nation’s request to have more than 200,000 acres of federally managed land in the Medicine Lake Highlands of Northern California, known as Sáttítla, protected as a national monument.
Sáttítla is culturally and naturally significant. Portions of Sáttítla already have been designated a Traditional Cultural District, as Sáttítla holds significance to the cultural and spiritual values of numerous Tribal Nations, including the Pit River, Modoc, Shasta, Karuk, and Wintu. These Nations continue to hold and participate in cultural activities, ceremonies, and gatherings on these Ancestral lands, and the area contains tribal cultural resources that are reflective of the long-standing history of the region.
In addition to their cultural significance, these lands are critical to the protection of water and wildlife. Sáttítla serves as critical headwaters in California. Aquifers below the surface capture snow melt and store as much water as California’s 200 largest surface reservoirs. Freshwater springs not only provide a buffer from increasing drought and climate change but are also key to ensuring drinking water for millions of people. These aquifers deliver clean water to the Fall River – the largest spring system in the state and one of the biggest aquifer networks in the Western United States – which then flows from Shasta Lake to the San Francisco Bay. The
waters, lakes, and streams of Sáttítla – and the forest canopy – also provide a home to many unique plant and wildlife species that depend on these clean and healthy features to survive.
Unfortunately, this irreplaceable landscape continues to be at risk from development. The Pit River Nation has had to defend the lands and waters of Sáttítla from more than two dozen federally issued industrial geothermal energy development leases. Geothermal power plants, utility lines, clear cutting of the forest, and hydraulic fracturing continue to threaten the sacredness and ecological importance of Sáttítla.
The Pit River Nation seeks to permanently protect Sáttítla from development and to create long-term protections for the area through a national monument designation. The Coalition supports this effort and believes this region should be designated as a national monument to honor the cultural history and connections of several Tribal Nations, and to safeguard land, water, wildlife, and habitat.
Michael B. Murray, Chair
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
CC: The Honorable Deb Haaland, Secretary, United States Department of Interior
The Honorable Tom Vilsack , Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture
The Honorable Laphonza Butler, United States Senate
The Honorable Alex Padilla, United States Senate