A Look Back at the Highlights of 2017
“The Mojave Trails National Monument was so beautiful! I’ve never seen so many stars in all my life,
and now I understand why so many people love to come exploring here.” ~ Robbie Bond, 9 years old
Robbie Bond came running across our lobby earlier this year, excited to describe his first ever night camping in the high desert. His stopover in the Mojave Trails was part of an amazing tour he was doing with his Dad to promote the 27 national monuments threatened with federal cutbacks.
Like a lot of kids his age, Robbie had never visited the desert before. Never woken up to a sunrise over the Cadiz dunes. He left determined to share that experience with others.
We’ve all had that first incredible desert moment. That moment when we realize deep down that this is an extraordinary place. It’s what makes us excited to come to work every day to help protect our desert lands.
As the end of the year approaches and we reflect on what progress was made, there are so many shared moments that stand out.
It was thrilling to hold the Desert Defenders rallies at spots across the Mojave. Over 500 people came to join the fight to protect our three Californian desert national monuments: Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains.
Within the Mojave Trails monument, our tours of the Desert Training Center at Camp Iron Mountain were so popular that there were waiting lists of people eager to get a taste of life in WWII training camps.
Likewise, there was a popular hike to Samuelson’s Rocks, a unique new property we acquired within Joshua Tree National Park. It was a chance for folks to learn more about homestead life, and the way the park service works with MDLT to help piece together public lands.
It was moving to spend time with Coachella Valley families from the Federation of Mexican Consulates, who spent the night camping at Mission Creek in Sand to Snow monument.
Imelda Ortiz, pictured below, told us: “Many of the members of our community don’t know these places exist, don’t know to come and enjoy the gifts our lands give to us — the plants, animals, water — to see how our ancestors lived. We are conserving these monuments for a better life for our children.”
We are equally proud to have acquired 6,400 acres of land this year: from a majestic mountain peak to a fragrant juniper-filled canyon. By the end of 2017, MDLT will have conserved a total of 71,000 acres — that’s 53,694 football fields!
In our nursery, we grew over 8,000 native plants for restoration projects in the Mojave Desert. Our awesome volunteers and staff braved the blistering summer heat, adding over 150 seed collections to our Mojave Desert Seed Bank in 2017.
Although we’ve made great strides in 2017, we cannot rest on our laurels. In the year ahead we’ll need an army of people — including the next generation of desert stewards like Robbie — to join us as Desert Defenders, to protect and preserve the Mojave for decades to come.
We hope you will consider a year-end contribution to honor our year together — and help us prepare for challenges in 2018.
This is incredibly exciting and inspiring work. When it comes to this desert, it deserves all our strength.