4,000 Acre Desert Cahuilla Prehistoric Site Protected (CA)

Imperial County, CA, 11/8/2006: The Trust for Public Land, California State Parks, and numerous other partners announce today the acquisition of the 4,000-acre Desert Cahuilla-Truckhaven Property. The property is located west of the Salton Sea, bordering both Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Ocotillo Wells State Vehicle Recreational Area. It will be managed by California State Parks for cultural and natural resource protection and recreation. A $50,000 grant funded by The Trust for Public Land will ensure a tribal role in the stewardship of cultural resources.

Sections of the property have significant scenic, ecological, archeological, historical, geological, and paleontological features. The site is among the ancestral lands of the Desert Cahuilla People, and contains hundreds of documented prehistoric cultural artifacts, including ceremony circles, shaman fire pits, and prehistoric trails along the ancient Lake Cahuilla shoreline.

“The Desert Cahuilla Prehistoric Site is a California jewel – full of cultural, historic and environmental significance, and a major asset to our region,” said U.S. Congressman Bob Filner (D-51). “This acquisition protects a historic archaeological area of the Desert Cahuilla Indians and will afford important protection for desert wildlife. With this effort, we move forward in protecting the environment. I am pleased to have played a part in acquiring this land and I thank all of the partners who worked to see it through.”

“We have been able to realize this acquisition because a diverse group of partners overcame their differences in service of a common goal. It is a wonderful achievement to protect 4,000 acres in this area of southern California, and to have so many engaged partners,” said Reed Holderman, Executive Director of TPL-California.

Funds for this $1.35 million acquisition were provided by State and Federal partners. Congressman Bob Filner was instrumental in helping to secure $680,000 of federal funds from the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). California State Parks provided the remaining $670,000 from the OHV Trust Fund account, which comes from the registration fees paid on off highway vehicles (green stickers) and gasoline taxes on all vehicles. The Trust for Public Land will grant $50,000 to the Native American Land Conservancy to facilitate tribal involvement in the management of cultural resources.

“The Native American Land Conservancy is thankful for all those who stepped forward making the purchase of this property possible,” said Joseph Benitez, Board Chairman for the Native American Land Conservancy. “The Coachella Valley is growing at a fast pace. The ability to preserve and protect property is significant for ours and future generations. We remain proud to have taken a small part in the acquisition, and look forward to the unique partnerships which the property produced.”

“We are pleased that we have acquired a parcel of land that is important to a variety of community groups and individuals because of its important resource values and its value as a recreational site,” said Ruth Coleman, Director of California State Parks. “Our intention is to take the steps necessary to protect the valuable environmental, archeological, historical and cultural resources on the property, while at the same time, recognizing the importance of the current level of recreational use.”

State Parks will facilitate a deliberative public planning process that will use science and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to arrive at appropriate land use decisions. The process will engage all concerned groups and individuals to insure that the management plan addresses the many features and potential uses for the property. While long term stewardship strategies are being developed, the property will be managed jointly by the State Parks’ management teams from both Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Ocotillo Wells State Vehicle Recreation Area.