By Miranda Buckley, Women in Science Discovering Our Mojave intern

“I’ve got a friend-o!” exclaims Roseanna, who’s crouched over, peering intently at the crunchy leaf-litter scattered on my old white bed sheet that’s been laid flat in the sandy riverbed. I’m making the last sweep of our final sample from this stand of invasive tamarisk trees, so I finish up, twirl my net shut, and clamber across the deep sand to meet the little guy. “Nice!”, I holler as she spots another, “I want to get a good shot of these guys”. …

If 2021 has you inspired to learn more about the California desert or indigenous history and culture, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled some of the favorite desert reads of Columba Quintero, of the Native American Land Conservancy, Brendan Cummings, of the Center for Biological Diversity, Ken Layne of the Desert Oracle, and Geary Hund, of the Mojave Desert Land Trust.

From Columba Quintero, Native American Land Conservancy:

Bringing Creation Back Together Again: The Salt Songs of the Nuwuvi; a Multi-Disciplinary Dispatch by Kim Stringfellow, PhD and Mathew Leivas, Chemehuevi Elder

Lands of Promise and Despair, Chronicles of Early California 1535–1846; Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. …

By Mary Cook-Rhyne, MDLT Education Coordinator

Have you ever looked up at the nighttime sky and marveled at its vastness? I have and continue to because it is incredible. Yet, the stars are becoming harder and harder to see in populated areas.

Hi, Mary Cook-Rhyne here. I am the Education Coordinator at MDLT and the program manager for the Women in Science Discovering Our Mojave (WISDOM) program. Today I’d like to introduce you to the Dark Night Sky Measurement Project. For this project, interns have begun monitoring the night sky quality in the western portion of Mojave Trails National Monument.

Mojave Trails National Monument is located between Needles and Barstow, California. The monument sits between the I15 and the I40, wrapping around the Mojave National Preserve in a U-shape. It spans a whopping 1.6 million acres and contains natural features like riparian areas, rugged mountains, open salt flats, sand dunes, wilderness areas, and beautiful open vistas. There are multiple significant cultural and historic sites to visit in the monument. It’s called Mojave Trails National Monument for a good reason. Sections of historic Route 66 run through the southern portion. You can visit Roy’s Café in Amboy or Goffs out near Needles to drive along sections of the route. Running through Afton Canyon is the Mojave Road, the Spanish Trail, and significant Native American trade routes. …

The California desert environment is “extremely fragile, easily scarred, and slowly healed.” This apt description, from the 1976 designation of the California Desert Conservation Area, drives home the need for specialized stewardship of this beautiful landscape.

This photo essay by Land Steward Stream Tuss explains what she does while out on Mojave Desert Land Trust lands, from checking for traces of tortoise activity to installing vital signage.

This edition of the Dorothy Ramon Learning Center August 2020 newsletter has been reprinted in full.

In this newsletter we explore paanihac (Serrano), pasal (Cahuilla), pashal (Luiseño), ‘ilépesh (Barbareño Chumash), nulh’amulh (Kumeyaay), or chia, as this sage plant (Salvia columbariae) is known in a few local Southern California languages. Chia’s tiny seeds offer an important Native American traditional energy food.

By Brandee Galan, intern for Women in Science Discovering our Mojave

I was born and raised in San Bernardino, 60 miles east of Los Angeles. It’s part of the Inland Empire and sits at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains. San Bernardino is known for being part of the Route 66, the first McDonald’s establishment, and the National Orange Show. At times San Bernardino gets a bad rap, but I am very proud to be from there. I appreciate the rich history and the diversity of culture and people that reside in city.

I believe my first early inspirational experience that got me involved in studying Geography/Environmental Studies at California State Univeristy, San Bernardino was my fascination with dinosaurs and watching Captain Planet cartoons as a child. I wanted to be a ‘Planeteer’ and protect Mother Nature. Another big influence was living so close to Little Mountain Drive, a mountain in between Shandin Hills Golf course and Shandin Hills Middle School. My house was positioned across the street from Little Mountain. I would see the sheep grazing every spring and early summer to keep the grass low to prevent it from catching fire. I would spend time hiking, sledding, and exploring the mountain with my family. …

National parks often contain private land within their borders. This can be problematic when it comes to managing natural resources. The Mojave Desert Land Trust plays an important role in conserving these lands by acquiring them from willing sellers and conveying them over to the National Park Service. MDLT has now conveyed more tracts of land to the National Parks system than any nonprofit since 2006.

There is an outdoor classroom deep in the Mojave National Preserve. It hasn’t been used for many years, but the chairs and desk are still in place, shaded from the burning sun by a roof. …

As a volunteer land steward, Wendy Hadley is responsible for MDLT’s 470-acre spectacular Flat Top Mesa property.

By Wendy Hadley, Mojave Desert Land Trust Volunteer

I have lived in Pioneertown in the Mojave Desert for eight years. Recently, I realized that in spite of a good and busy life, I was longing to connect more with my community and dedicate some time to volunteer work. I am passionate about our beautiful desert landscape, so I decided to check out the Mojave Desert Land Trust’s volunteer opportunities.

I was excited to discover their volunteer land steward program. Land steward volunteers are trained and help monitor MDLT protected land by visiting assigned areas periodically, conducting visual site inspections, and collecting simple data to keep a record of land changes or problems (primarily human disturbances such as trash dumping, fire setting and vehicle damage). …

The Women in Science Discovering Our Mojave internship has provided new insights into the movement of bighorn sheep in the Mojave Desert, with game cameras collecting data and images of the elusive species. The internship expands this fall with three new interns further tracking bighorn movement and gathering data on the tamarisk beetle.

Hi, Mary Cook-Rhyne here. I am the Education Coordinator at the Mojave Desert Land Trust and the program manager for the Women in Science Discovering Our Mojave (WISDOM) program. Last fall, MDLT and the Bureau of Land Management piloted the WISDOM internship program, monitoring bighorn sheep in Mojave Trails National Monument. It provided important data on their movements in the Afton Canyon Natural Area. …

(This article was updated on September 21, 2020)

We are at a critical juncture for the western Joshua tree. It may seem impossible to imagine the southern California desert without its signature Joshua tree forests, but without adequate protective measures to address impending threats, it’s a very likely scenario. Below is information about the threats facing the western Joshua tree and details of how you can help.


Mojave Desert Land Trust

The Mojave Desert Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization protecting lands with natural, scenic, and cultural value within the Mojave Desert.

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