The Mojave Desert Land Trust has become an official fundraising friends’ group for Joshua Tree National Park. Here’s reporter Andrew Dieleman with the story…With the signing of a new partnership agreement, the Mojave Desert Land Trust can now raise funds to support Joshua Tree National Park’s resources and values. The additional funds will help preserve heritage resources, understand landscape system dynamics, conserve rare and threatened species, restore habitat, protect wilderness values, and ensure quality visitor experiences and educational opportunities within the park.
The Mojave Desert is filled with ancient petroglyphs and other symbols of the past preserved in the landscape. Community members have been working to protect a 30.25-acre plot in Joshua Tree rich with Native American history and on May 22, the county Board of Supervisors authorized the conveyance of the land to the Native American Land Conservancy, a group that aims to protect the history of the site.
In 2002, Pat Flanagan, a 78-year-old conservation activist, fled the bright lights of the big city for outer San Bernardino County and the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert. “I’m a desert person,” Flanagan said. “I have to live here.” Her home sits in a part of California that encompasses three deserts — the Mojave, the Colorado and the Sonoran — five national parks and monuments, and more than 10 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management for multiple uses, including conservation of threatened species such as the desert tortoise, desert bighorn sheep and Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard.
There’s less graffiti on the rocks bordering Horsemen’s Center in Apple Valley of late thanks to a little elbow grease and a lot of snot. The grease came courtesy of Jonah Olson and 15 or so of his friends. The snot — Elephant Snot, to be exact — was provided by the fine folks of the Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) in Joshua Tree.
Bonanza Springs, a wildlife water source once of interest mostly to animals and desert hikers, has become the focus of a fight over the future of the Cadiz water project. A study published this month in the Journal of Environmental Forensics asserts Cadiz Inc.’s plan to pump water from beneath the Mojave Desert would drain water from Bonanza Springs.
Below the rocky, sunbaked ridges of the Clipper Mountains in the Mojave Desert, a ribbon of green teems with life. Cottonwoods, willows and reeds sway with the breeze. Crickets chirp. Bees buzz around shallow pools. Clear water gushes from a hole in the ground, forming Bonanza Spring, the largest spring in the southeastern Mojave Desert. This rare oasis is at the center of the fight over a company’s plan to pump groundwater and sell it to California cities.
A new study, funded by the Mojave Desert Land Trust, has found that one of the Mojave Desert’s largest natural springs would be threatened by a proposed water project that would pump 16 billion gallons of water per year from an underground aquifer. Bonanza Spring is located just 11 miles from Cadiz, Inc., which plans to pump and sell the water to Los Angeles-area water agencies. The study says that Bonanza Spring, located in the Mojave Trails National Monument a few miles north of Route 66, is connected to the Cadiz aquifer, and that pumping out so much water would dry up the spring.
What do you see when you look at a desert? An empty space? A forbidding wasteland? For some, the sun is too bright, the air too dry, and the cactus too thorny. Others might find the desert a nice place to visit, but no place to live. But for some people—desert people—the space and the solitude found where the soil turns to sand is an invitation to create and explore. In the high Mojave Desert east of Los Angeles, the unincorporated community of Joshua Tree is home to offbeat artists, rock climbers, and a military community: people who’ve found something in the desert worth staying for.
Conservationists are also frustrated that DRECP has been unceremoniously reopened after years of hard work. Over the course of its development, DRECP went through severe growing pains. In 2015, renewable energy developers and conservationists wrote an unusual joint letter to federal officials in which they complained about the plan’s “pervasive lack of clarity.” But by the time the plan was completed in the fall of 2016, it represented an achievement across coalitions.
The Mojave Desert Land Trust announced Monday it has appointed an interim executive director. Rich Weideman, who spent 33 years with the National Park Service, most recently as assistant director of partnerships and civic engagement in Washington, D.C., will replace Danielle Segura, who left to take a position with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.