Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT)was the topic of a talk during the November VMI meeting of the Victor Valley Chamber.
Imagine it is the year 2030. The California Desert is a vital ecosystem of interconnected, permanently protected scenic and natural areas that host a diversity of native plants and wildlife.
Views and vistas are broad. The air is clear, the water is clean, and the night skies are dark. Cities and military facilities are compact and separated by large natural areas.
Local residents, visitors, land managers, and political leaders value the unique environment in which they live and work.
They understand the natural processes and cultural resources of the California Desert as well the impacts of global climate change upon the Desert ecosystem and collaborate on land use and management activities that allow for adaptation under changing climactic conditions and protect the California Desert for future generations.
Since work began in 2006, the organization has acquired an average of 19 acres per day, protecting the desert’s ecosystems, using grant funding to acquire privately-held parcels within three desert parks – Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks, and the Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley National Park.
Once acquired, the inholdings would be conveyed to the National Park Service for long-term management.
To date, 532 parcels representing over 23,000 acres within desert national parks have been preserved and more than 12,000 acres conveyed.
Using conservation tools, strategies and partnerships, the Land Trust focuses on conservation and stewardship of natural, scenic and cultural lands in the desert. Education and outreach are used to bring the significant value of the Mojave Desert ecosystem to a broad based audience, and to promote preservation.
The group collaborates with conservation agencies and organizations, local governments, and landowners and is supported with broad-based funding.
Mojave Desert Land Trust was formed in 2005 by a small group of concerned citizens to address growing concern over the development that threatens the fragile ecosystems and quality of life for residents and visitors
A movement called The Artists For the Monuments is a vigorous grassroots movement that supports several proposed National
• Mojave Trails National Monument would preserve striking desert lands linking Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve, with an intact stretch of Route 66, a landmark of geography of the American West.
• Sand to Snow National Monument on the Sonoran Desert floor to the top of southern California’s tallest mountain, Mount San Gorgonio, a rich tapestry of landscapes and habitats including alpine peaks, Joshua tree woodlands, mountain vistas, rivers and wetlands, and desert.
• Castle Mountains National Monument includes rocky peaks, native desert grasslands, Joshua trees, and piñon pine and juniper forests, and stunning vistas.
Call MDLT (760) 366-5440, or visit www.mojavedesertlandtrust.org.
, or call (760) 366-5440.
The “Artists for the Monuments” support Senator Dianne Feinstein’s call to President Obama to use the Antiquities Act in designating three new national monuments in the California Desert – Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains. These areas are considered to be one of the most intact, wild and untouched ecosystems in the lower 48 states.
Artists for the Monuments
The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) created the “Artists for the Monuments” campaign in response to the high concentration of concerned artists and artistic voices working and living in the Morongo Basin, and in direct correlation with MDLT’s mission to protect the Mojave Desert Ecosystem.
Many of the “Artists for the Monuments” live and work in southern California and have a stake in the protections of these areas. They represent a range of visionary, cultural and artistic leadership and executive positions across numerous local, regional, and national organizations. In addition to signing a national petition, many have signed on to a personalized letter to President Obama, that outlines the necessity for Monuments designations.
The letter states, “Designating the three California Desert monuments will further reinforce the globally revered legacy of American land stewardship and conservation, a patriotic legacy that is deeply rooted in the arts. The artists and scientists who sent paintings, drawings, photographs, maps and dispatches from the wilds of the west during the 1800s made westward expansion visible to the public and catalyzed one of the greatest environmental campaigns in our history: the establishment of the National Parks System and the Antiquities Act.”
In this letter, these artists express their passion about the legacy of these treasured landscapes: “Like the painters, photographers, naturalists and storytellers before us who accompanied early explorers and surveyors of the great unknown west, we continue to make the experiences of this unique landscape visible to the public through our work today. We are committed to the ongoing awareness and preservation of this frontier of discovery that has yet to be fully experienced, studied or revealed in its natural state.”
Artists who live and work in areas adjacent to the proposed national monuments are vocal about the importance of the designation. Some have dedicated their entire careers to research and education about the California Desert.
Fragile Desert Ecosystems
Artist Sant Khalsa, Professor Emeritus Department of Art and Founding Faculty of the Water Resources Institute at California State University San Bernardino, lives in Joshua Tree, CA. Khalsa’s photographic artwork is largely about water issues, with a specific focus on raising awareness about water scarcity and land use in southern California.
“The California Desert is my home and a vast and phenomenal space that inspires contemplation, new ideas, and innovative research that leads to mitigating the environmental challenges we face today,” said Khalsa. “It is critically important that we preserve these fragile desert ecosystems, ensuring that we and future generations will benefit through personal experiences and connection with these magnificent landscapes.”
Another internationally-regarded artist speaking out for designation of the desert national monuments is Joshua Tree resident Kim Stringfellow. She is a Guggenheim Fellow 2015 and Director of the Mojave Project.
“Monuments designations in the California desert will ensure that the plants and animals that live in these areas are protected and guaranteed a large enough range for migrating and adapting to the pressures of human development and climate change,” said Stringfellow. “We now know from long-term scientific studies that the desert provides an important function as a carbon sink, which is essential to mitigating global climate change. Humans ultimately rely on the integrity of these landscapes for their own health as well.”
October 13 Public Meeting
Many of these artists and cultural leaders are members of the Mojave Desert Land Trust and attended the October 13 public meeting in Whitewater, CA, where Senator Feinstein hosted officials from the Obama Administration, members of Congress, and state, county, and local government representatives to discuss her initiative and gather public comment on the proposed desert national monument designations.
Two art leaders who attended were Ruth and Steve Rieman. Ruth is a core Board Member of the Joshua Tree Highlands Residency and Steve is an internationally-collected kinetic sculptor and public artist.
“Regional artists’ homes, studios and businesses are bordered by the proposed Sand to Snow National Monument and Joshua Tree National Park. The proposed Mojave Trails National Monument is a short drive away,” said Ruth Rieman. “We consider the Morongo Basin the gateway to these public lands and urge the President to act swiftly to protect this landscape and protect our shared heritage.”
“The Artists For the Monuments represents a powerful and meaningful voice within MDLT’s diverse members and supporters.
It reinforces a vigorous grassroots movement that recognizes the importance of connecting with and investing in the protection of our public lands,” said Mojave Desert Land Trust Executive Director Danielle Segura. “In joining this campaign, these artists are signaling their investment in our organization’s ongoing commitment to protect extraordinary and one-of-a-kind natural and cultural resources, habitats and wildlife linkages, and to continue connecting people with intact and uninterrupted landscapes for generations to come.”
Descriptions of the Proposed National Monuments:
Courtesy of MDLT
The proposed Mojave Trails National Monument would preserve striking desert lands linking Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve. It features the most intact stretch of historic Route 66, a significant landmark in the geography of California and the American West. The lands in the proposed National Monument are habitat for desert tortoises and bighorn sheep and hold archeological and scientific wonders, including 550 million-year-old fossils in the Marble Mountains Fossil Beds. National monument status would protect existing uses of these lands for outdoor recreation, visiting Route 66, exploring geology, and preserving wildlife corridors between national parks and wilderness areas.
The proposed Sand to Snow National Monument rises from the Sonoran Desert floor to the top of southern California’s tallest mountain, Mount San Gorgonio. It contains a rich tapestry of landscapes and habitats including alpine peaks, Joshua tree woodlands, mountain vistas, rivers and wetlands, and desert. These lands also hold 25 miles of the iconic Pacific Crest Trail and the headwaters of southern California’s longest river, the Santa Ana, as well as the headwaters of the Whitewater River. Recreational opportunities in the proposed Sand to Snow National Monument include hiking, horseback riding, backpacking, fishing and bird watching. At higher elevations, outdoor enthusiasts enjoy snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail. National monument status would protect these existing uses.
The proposed Castle Mountains National Monument includes rocky peaks, native desert grasslands, Joshua trees, and piñon pine and juniper forests. It offers stunning vistas of the California and Nevada desert mountain ranges, including a view of Nevada’s Spirit Mountain, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a location revered by numerous southwestern Native American tribes. The proposed Castle Mountains National Monument includes rich cultural and historical resources, such as Native American archaeological sites and the historic gold mining ghost town of Hart. The area is also rich with wildlife, such as golden eagles, bighorn sheep, mountain lions and bobcats.
Mojave Desert Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to protect the Mojave Desert ecosystem and its scenic and cultural resource values through acquisition, land stewardship, and strategic partnerships. Since 2006 the organization has protected over 55,000 acres of desert land.