pine city trail

Earth Day 2017: What I’ll be doing

As a volunteer with (and President of) Mojave Desert Land Trust, I’ll be working with our volunteers and Marines from the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California to continue our work in restoring a 640-acre parcel of land we recently acquired that abuts Joshua Tree National Park. Here’s a recent photo (taken by one of our volunteers or staff). Working with the Marines is always fun, and an honor. But because I’m old enough to be each of their grandfather, I get really protective of the men and women in the Marine Corps, and worry about them.

A description of this parcel, and what our intentions are, from the San Bernardino County Sentinel:

The land had been owned for over a decade by Danmark Development, which had designs of subdividing the property for residential development. The property, an expanse of Joshua trees, piñon pines and brush, populated by no people and a smattering of desert tortoise, badgers, mule deer and an occasional bobcat, includes a ridge in the Little San Bernardino Mountains that presents a spectacular vantage over Long Canyon, both Yucca and Coachella valleys and the San Gorgonio Wilderness peaks to the west.

The land, nevertheless, is marred by debris, trash, old tires, discarded appliances, abandoned vehicles and upwards of 40,000 bullet casings, as over the years people have used it as a dump and unauthorized shooting range. An effort to clean the property up over the next several years is being planned.

It is the Mojave Desert Land Trust’s intention that the 640 acres will be absorbed into Joshua Tree National Park, becoming a protected area, meaning it will be off limits for development of any sort but will be open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, and will stand as a wildlife preserve. This last function is significant, as the property is located within the wildlife corridor between Joshua Tree National Park and the Sand to Snow National Monument.

I have a couple of events bookended around Earth Day. Tomorrow, several volunteers and staff with the Wildlands Conservancy are guiding 200 elementary school kids (4th through 6th grades) through the Wildlands’ Mission Creek Preserve to explore and study desert wildflowers. Then on Sunday, I’m volunteering to work with a group that will be hiking along the Pine City trail in Joshua Tree National Park. All good stuff. I’ll be ready to do my couch potato thing Sunday evening.