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The Mojave Desert Land Trust | heARTbeat Report.

Mojave Land Trust is fundraising for 645 acres of prime conservation land.

The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is announcing plans to raise money for the Quail Wash property, 645 acres of prime conservation land adjacent to the Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP). This newest acquisition is vital in its proximity to the park and its link to two other significant purchases – Nolina Peak and Quail Mountain. It is a significant wildlife corridor, home to Bighorn sheep and Desert tortoise, and will reinstate original park boundaries when MDLT gifts it to the park.

MDLT, a non-profit formed in 2005 to address growing concerns over development in the California desert, has been working diligently to conserve land that is vital to maintaining a functioning intact ecosystem. The Quail Wash property, once part of the park and separated in the 1950s, will be returned to the Park Service.

“Joshua Tree National Park is a core preserve area,” said Frazier Haney, Conservation Director of the Mojave Desert Land Trust. “It should be treated with the highest level of care to ensure its resources stay intact. The work we do in the Wilderness Areas or the National Park is to protect the core (areas) that form the basis for ecological integrity.”

MDLT, started by a handful of local people working on their own time, is responsible for conserving some 50,000 acres of privately held parcels of land. These lands, private inholdings sold to the Land Trust, have been donated back to the Park, Wildness Area, or sometimes held in perpetuity. The MDLT’s reach extends to Inyo, San Bernardino, Kern, Riverside, and Imperial counties.

Danielle Segura, Executive Director of the MDLT, describes land trusts as essential non-profits that fill the gap around the country in conservation. Land trusts – citizen-run non-profits – can gather the funding and purchase land that is essential to maintain an ecosystem and ensure long-term protection of the cultural, biological, scenic, and open space qualities of designated areas. The MDLT is working to conserve the wide public spaces and the natural beauty of the land for residents, tourists, hikers, climbers, weekenders, and artists that are drawn to this particular area for its beauty and space.

Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve, and Death Valley National Park combine to include five million acres of natural desert. The Morongo Basin,14,000 square miles of richly varied landscape with vast, diverse flora and fauna, includes Mountain lions, Bighorn sheep, Joshua trees, Mojave fringe-toed lizards, and Velvet ants. Connectivity and habitat for wildlife are essential to this area. The land must be protected so that plants and animals can move through the landscape and reproduce. Most plants seed the ground next to them, producing new plants. It’s a slow process. Development can break that connectivity and endanger the continuation of those plants and animals.

Cholla garden in the Joshua Tree National Park

“The concern is that as people develop the land, the wildlife and plant life will be forced out, and we will lose what has been native for generations,” said Karin Messaros, Management Assistant for the National Park Service. The Mojave Desert Land Trust is working with the National Park Service to protect cultural, archeological, and natural resources. “We need open spaces for people’s wellness, and we need to value what happened in the past,” said Messaros.

The high regard for wildlife among the basin’s residents is evident both in their active involvement in the area’s development and the favorite local activities that keep people returning. In 2013, a million people visited Joshua Tree National Park and spent almost 63 million dollars in the communities near the park. As new residents and visitors are drawn to the Morongo Basin, it is essential to identify the places that are important to the community, to preserve and showcase the open views and landmarks that residents and tourists associate with.

November 8, 2014 is the 20th Anniversary of the California Desert Protection Act. The MDLT will celebrate the anniversary and the acquisition of the Quail Wash property at the Joshua Tree & Southern Railroad Museum in JT, CA. Located on a vista near the Quail Wash property, it is the perfect location to reflect on the importance of an intact desert ecosystem, the spirit of the California Desert Protection Act, and the new acquisition. The event begins in the morning and is open to the public. Details will be announced.

MDLT is embarking on a fundraising campaign to complete the Quail Wash acquisition. “We are encouraging the public who share our vision to participate, especially those who are in the neighborhood!” said Segura.

Joshua tree in the Joshua Tree National Tree National Park

If you are interested in the events and donating to this critical conservation effort, contact the Mojave Desert Land Trust at

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