Ruiz Leads Charge for Joshua Tree National Park Upgrades

March 3, 2021
Press Release

Palm Desert, CA – Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) is advocating for upgrades at Joshua Tree National Park. Ruiz led other Southern California members of Congress in a letter to National Park Service Deputy Director Shawn Benge urging the Administration to green light upgrades to the Cottonwood Visitor Center. The facility, which is located at the southern entrance to Joshua Tree, is outdated and ill-equipped to accommodate the over three million visitors the park receives each year. Representative Tony Cardenas (CA-29), Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41), Rep. Pete Aguilar (CA-31), and Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51) also signed the letter. 

“As representatives from communities across Southern California, we know the value that Joshua Tree brings to our constituents and how investment in the park will protect these benefits for generations to come,” Ruiz and the other members wrote in the letter. “Upgrading the Cottonwood Visitor Center is a critical infrastructure project that would benefit millions of visitors by providing additional space for exhibits on the cultural history of local tribal nations, safety orientations, adequate restrooms, and information on hikes and campgrounds. By investing in this project, the National Park Service would be taking a major step forward in improving the visitor experience to Southern California’s largest National Park.”

Despite playing a prominent role for the park, the current Cottonwood Visitor Center consists of a double-wide trailer that was originally intended to be a temporary structure when it was put in place more than twenty years ago. The facility lacks space to display meaningful exhibits or information on the park and has inadequate parking and restrooms for the volume of tourists it receives.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Background

Joshua Tree National Park hosts an average of more than three million visitors annually. Roughly half of those visitors enter the park through the Cottonwood Visitor Center.

Joshua Tree spans nearly 800,000 acres and allows visitors to partake in activities ranging from hiking and camping to rock climbing.

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