Mojave Desert Land Trust releases 2020 annual report

For immediate release 

May 18, 2021
Contact: Jessica Dacey, Director of Communications
Phone: 760-820-2275
Email: jessica@mdlt.org   

Mojave Desert Land Trust protected 7,500 acres in 2020

Joshua Tree, CA – The Mojave Desert Land Trust has released its 2020 annual report. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, over 7,500 acres of conservation lands were protected during the year.

During the year, MDLT acquired 1,228 ac in wilderness, 520 ac in national parks, 223 ac in Morongo Basin wildlife linkages, 3,016 ac in habitat mitigation and conservation easements, and 2,881 ac in national monuments.

A highlight was the acquisition of 227 beautiful acres from the Institute of Mentalphysics in Joshua Tree, helping MDLT connect several parcels it owns within a wildlife corridor between Joshua Tree National Park and the 29 Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. Habitat linkages help animal and plant populations remain healthy and provide for climate change resilience.

These acquisitions helped MDLT reach a new milestone in 2021 of 90,000 acres conserved across the California desert since 2006.

“The importance of connecting with nature was illustrated time and again in 2020. From witnessing the change of seasons from our backyard to hiking a favorite trail, spending time outdoors became a vital way of coping with one of the more challenging years in memory. The circumstances of 2020 inspired us to work even harder to preserve the desert ecosystems and resources that provide such sustenance,” said Geary Hund, Executive Director of the Mojave Desert Land Trust.

Many rare species of birds were identified in 2020 during surveys of the riparian woodland at Palisades Ranch, a 1,647-acre property MDLT acquired in 2018 along the Mojave River. This important habitat area is one of the Trust’s most significant acquisitions to date. A restoration plan is being developed for the Ranch.

Following strict health and safety protocols, staff also removed 10.3 tons of trash from MDLT lands and restored nearly 10,000 linear feet of disturbed areas. In the native plant nursery, over 18,000 plants were grown for restoration and community use, and 39 collections and seven new taxa added to the Mojave Desert Seed Bank.

MDLT runs a successful Desert Discovery Program for youth in underrepresented communities. The Outreach and Public Engagement team pivoted in 2020, introducing free online educational programs for children and families at home. The Plant Conservation Programs also rethought how to conduct the popular fall native plant sale, transitioning to a month-long online event. Fundraising went virtual, too, with the first-ever Miles For MDLT fundraiser.

“Thank you to everyone who supported us this year as we navigated these new waters. The nature of our work means we are always looking forward. On the horizon there are exciting land acquisitions, and bold campaigns to preserve our wild spaces. These include efforts to create a desert State Conservancy Program which would bring millions of conservation dollars to the area, efforts to create a new national monument, the expansion of our seed bank facility, and the growth of our pioneering educational programs,” said Geary Hund, Executive Director of the Mojave Desert Land Trust. “MDLT will be celebrating its 15th anniversary in August and we will have a series of programs to share the conservation highlights since 2006. We are grateful to our supporters over the last 15 years.”

Note to editors:

Download the 2020 annual report here.

Photos available here.

The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission to protect and care for lands with natural, scenic, and cultural value within the Mojave Desert. Since its founding in 2006 the land trust has conserved 90,000 acres, conveying more tracts of land to the National Park Service in the last decade than any other organization. In addition to acquiring land, the land trust established a seed bank to ensure the preservation of native species. MDLT operates an onsite nursery at its Joshua Tree headquarters which propagates native species for ecosystem restoration. MDLT educates and advocates for the conservation of the desert, involving hundreds of volunteers in our work. For more information, visit mdlt.org.