The dark night sky is being mapped in the monument thanks to an MDLT project promoting women in STEM.

The Milky Way above Mojave Trails National Monument

In February 2021, MDLT’s Dark Night Sky Measurement Project finished a six-month long survey of the night sky quality in the western portion of Mojave Trails National Monument (MTNM). Using both a Sky Quality Meter — or SQM — and Dark Sky Meter (DSM) phone app, three Women In Science Discovering Our Mojave (WISDOM) interns were able to contribute vital scientific research in the monument.


The Mojave Desert is spectacular at all times of year, but springtime is especially abundant with wildflowers and other fresh sprouts. While seeing splashes of bright green amidst our sandy washes might seem like a sight for sore eyes, in actuality, not all of the greenery is beneficial. Some of these are invasive species that if left unchecked, can run rampant over the landscape, harming ecosystems and the animals who rely on the native flora for food.

When gardening in your little slice of desert paradise, you’ll want to pull the invasive weeds as soon as you notice them to…


This edition of the Dorothy Ramon Learning Center January 2021 newsletter has been reprinted in full. Subscribe to the Dorothy Ramon Learning Center newsletter here.

Fires burned the Inland Southern California landscapes all around us in summer and autumn 2020. Nearly six months later, with little rain, native plants are growing back across the area’s charred Native American homelands.


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


Night Sky as seen from Bagdad in Mojave Trails National Monument. Note the Milk Way’s prominence in the photo. Photo: MDLT

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.


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.

The first live tortoise we spot during tortoise survey training in Hidden Valley near Newberry Springs.

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”. …


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.


Intern Brandee Galan checking for tamarisk beetles. Photo: Miranda

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…


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.

A former classroom structure in Mojave National Preserve

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…

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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