The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Biden,

As retired National Park Service leaders and veterans of the United States military, we’re writing to express our enthusiastic support for your America the Beautiful initiative and commitment to protect 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030. Our experience in military service and as stewards of America’s national parks has instilled in us a deep appreciation for the importance of preserving our nation’s history and resources for future generations. With that well of expertise, we urge you to advance these ambitious goals by designating three new national monuments in California this year: Chuckwalla, Kw’tsán, and Sáttítla Medicine Lake Highlands.

Specifically related to our military service, the proposed Chuckwalla National Monument holds significant historical importance. During World War II, the area was home to the Desert Training Center (DTC), established by General George S. Patton in 1942. The DTC was a critical site for preparing American troops for the harsh conditions of desert warfare. Over one million soldiers trained at the DTC, including divisions that played pivotal roles in the North African and European theaters. The landscape of Chuckwalla still bears the marks of this intense period of military training, with remnants of camps, tank tracks, and other wartime artifacts scattered across the region.

The protection of this historical landscape is essential not only for honoring the memory and sacrifices of those who trained here but also for educating future generations about this significant chapter in American military history. Similar to monuments you have already designated such as Castner Range and Camp Hale, establishing the Chuckwalla National Monument would help to ensure the protection of these historic resources and offer interpretive opportunities to tell the stories of the soldiers who lived and trained there.

Furthermore, no community in the U.S. serves in the military at a higher per capita rate than Native peoples. And there are two other national monument campaigns being led by Tribes in California – Kw’tsán and Sáttítla Medicine Lake Highlands. These places are special and deserve to be protected for all, but they are particularly sacred to Tribes, as these lands are used not only for recreation but for ceremonies and gatherings as well.

As veterans, we recognize the importance of uplifting these narratives as part of our national heritage and honoring the legacy of those who came before us. Our military service has given us a profound respect for our country and its resources. The discipline and dedication we learned in the military are mirrored by our commitment to protecting America’s irreplaceable natural and cultural resources through our careers with the National Park Service. We believe that establishing these national monuments will be a significant step in safeguarding these invaluable assets.

We urge you to continue working toward the goals laid out in the America the Beautiful initiative and to protect more public lands by designating the Chuckwalla, Kw’tsán, and Sáttítla Medicine Lake Highlands National Monuments. These actions will help to ensure the protection of irreplaceable parts of our national heritage while honoring their natural beauty and historical and cultural significance. Your continued leadership in this effort will leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.
Thank you for considering our perspective on this critical issue. We are confident that with your support, these national spaces will be protected for generations to come, reflecting our nation’s commitment to conservation and respect for our natural and cultural heritage.

Sincerely,

Gary Davis
U.S. Army Veteran
Retired National Park Service Administrator California

Tom Vaughan
U.S. Army Veteran
Retired National Park Service Administrator New Mexico

Bill Wade
U.S. Army Veteran
Retired National Park Service Administrator Arizona