Land Trust Hopes To Add Nearly 1,000 Acres to Joshua Tree National Park`

This is some of the land the Mojave Desert Land Trust wants to acquire for Joshua Tree National Park. Mojave Desert Land Trust photo.

Joshua Tree National Park, which grew by more than 600 acres in 2008 thanks to the Mojave Desert Land Trust, could gain nearly 1,000 more acres thanks to the group's efforts.

To pull off the 955-acre deal, though, the trust needs to raise roughly $1.6 million. By November, preferably. The land in question is pristine wildlife habitat that sits adjacent to the northern boundary of Joshua Tree. The parcels are comprised of Section 11 and half of Section 13 in the Joshua Tree Highlands area. It is situated near Nolina Peak, a 639-acre section that the Land Trust acquired in 2007 and donated to the park last year.

"We have a short period of time in which to purchase this pristine and important wildlife area. We hope residents and visitors alike will understand the importance of this land and appreciate the quality of life
that these areas provide to all of us," said Nancy Karl, the trust's executive director. "Conserving the Quail Mountain ecosystem will be a great victory for the abundant wildlife in this area, and for everyone who appreciates the beauty of our natural areas."

While the land trust technically has a year to raise the money, according to Ms. Karl, it can knock $150,000 off the price tag if it can come up with the money by November. While the land trust does have some commitments, it still has a lot of money to raise, and so it is turning to park advocates to help meet the goal.

As an extension of the Quail Mountain ecosystem, the land in qustion hosts a diverse population of wildlife that includes bighorn sheep, bobcat, desert tortoise, coyote, and dozens of bird species. It is also a key watershed area that provides necessary surface flow to the lower elevations. Understandably, this area of Joshua Tree is a significant wildlife corridor that provides for the movement of animals in and out of the national park and hosts an intact, pristine vegetative community, a critical component of a healthy ecosystem.

"The conservation of lands in the Quail Mountain area on the northern edge of the park is extremely important for the long-term health of the wildlife and plants," said Joshua Tree Superintendent Curt Sauer. "The land trust's effort to acquire these 955 acres significantly assists the park with our efforts to consolidate and perpetuate the ecosystem of the area."

Mike Cipra, the California Desert program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, described the acreage as a mix of pinion pine and juniper in the higher elevations, with stands of Joshua trees down below.

"It's intact habitat, it’s never been grazed. When I went out there I saw several active tortoise burrows (early May),” he said. "I think it’s really rare to have the opportunity to add intract habitat to Joshua Tree, particularly habitat that has Joshua tree woodlands. ... It’s habitat for the threatened desert tortoise, it’s habitat for animals like bobcats.”

To help the fund-raising campaign, you can make a tax-deductible online contribution at the land trust's website.


A nice idea, hope it pans out.


My travels through the National Park System: