THE MOJAVE DESERT: Vast, Scenic, Fragile, Alive

The California Desert is a functioning intact ecosystem, stretching across 29 million acres, or 28% of California’s landmass. It is home to rare plants and magnificent creatures – a place of scenic wonder and tremendous biological diversity. In the fast growing West, the threats to this priceless heritage are greater than ever. Many plants are threatened or endangered, star-filled night skies are impacted by light pollution, wildlife habitat is fragmented, and wildlife corridors are disrupted by development.

MOJAVE DESERT LAND TRUST: Connect With The Desert You Love

MDLT conserves land with important biological, cultural and scenic values. Our work helps to secure the biodiversity, beauty, and integrity of healthy desert ecosystems for future generations to enjoy. We have protected over 60,000 acres of desert land through acquisition, land stewardship and strategic partnerships.

MDLT’s service area encompasses the eastern Mojave Desert, reaching from Death Valley National Park to the Mexico border. This region includes three national parks, five military installations, forty five BLM Wilderness areas and several major population centers, all part of the 24.5 million acre California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) created by Congress in 1976.

Click here to view a map of our service area.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Meet Our Network of Scholars, Experts & Resources…

The first step MDLT takes when identifying priority areas for conservation is to examine existing research and studies. Following are resources we rely on most for these purposes.

Wildlife Linkages:

Wildlife Linkages connect large areas of habitat, and are habitat in and of themselves. Linkages need to be studied for many species, everything from wide-ranging animals such as mountain lions, to the seeds of native plants like Joshua Trees, or insects like the queen butterfly. These linkage studies consider a variety of species where open space exists, and the kinds of topography necessary for each.

1. South Coast Wildlands Missing Linkages

  • Little San Bernardino to San Bernardino
  • Little San Bernardino to San Bernardino Linkage Design Report
  • Joshua Tree to 29 Palms
  • Desert Linkage Network

2. California Essential Habitat Connectivity

3. Conserving Desert Tortoise Population Linkages

4. Using Network Theory to model bighorn sheep populations – Creech

Agency Plans:

These landscape plans are critical for conserving individual species like the desert tortoise, and for broader concepts like protecting areas of biodiversity. Our work relies upon sound land-use planning to protect the desert’s landscapes.

1. Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan

2. State Wildlife Action Plan

3. Areas of Conservation Emphasis (ACE) link to online viewer

4. Morongo Basin Conservation Priorities Report

Link to online map

5. California Desert Conservation Area Management Plan (as amended)

6. Mojave Desert Ecoregional Assessment

7. California Desert Conservation Vision Plan

Climate Change:

MDLT considers climate change as it prioritizes its conservation projects. While different models of climate change call for different possible futures, there are many areas that remain consistently important habitat over time in most outcomes. This overlap helps guide our focus to the best, most significant areas for long-term conservation investment.

1. Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk

2. Deserts as Carbon Sink (Evans)

3. Carbon Balance in the California Desert (CEC)

4. Joshua Trees

California Desert National Monuments:

Designated on February 12, 2016 the California Desert National Monuments are three bright stars on the map for the lands we love and places we play here in the rugged and beautiful California Desert.

  1. Mojave Trails National Monument
    a. MTNM Presidential Proclamation
    b. MTNM Map
  2. Sand To Snow National Monument
    a. STSNM Presidential Proclamation
    b. STSNM Map
  3. Castle Mountains National Monument
    a. CMNM Presidential Proclamation
    b. CMNM Map
  4. Sonoran Institute Mining Report
    a. Mining Report Summary
    b. Mining Report Fact Sheet
  5. 3MONUMENTS.ORG – Made possible by California Desert Monuments Partnership