Mojave Desert Land Protected Near Joshua Tree National Park
A 623-acre parcel of land near Joshua Tree National Park which had been scheduled for a large housing development will instead be protected for local residents to use and learn about the desert, two conservation organizations announced today.
Local residents will be able to walk their dogs on the land, hike on it, ride their horses, and enjoy nature.
A development of 2,400 homes had been planned for the property, but faced strong local opposition and the would-be developer eventually defaulted on the property. It includes more than 10,000 Joshua trees and sits near the northern edge of the national park, at the intersection of California Highway 62 and La Contenta Road.
The successful protection effort was announced by a partnership of The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization which acquired it, and the Mojave Desert Land Trust, which then purchased it from The Trust for Public Land. The project was supported by Wells Fargo, which structured an extended agreement to allow The Trust for Public Land and its partners to complete fundraising for the acquisition of the land.
Nancy Karl, Executive Director of Mojave Desert Land Trust, said, “With great partners and strong support from the community, an important section of the Joshua Tree North Linkage has been protected forever. Restoring and sharing the land with adjacent neighborhoods and the school children across the street is very rewarding.”
“Protecting this land is important for the people who live in Joshua Tree,” said Alex Size, Project Manager of The Trust for Public Land. “It will help protect those qualities which make Joshua Tree such a unique place.”
“We are proud to have been able to support the preservation of this important and unique property,” said Dan Bartok, head of Wells Fargo’s Commercial Real Estate Owned division.
The $1.4 million cost came from a variety of sources, including a California state agency, The Wildlife Conservation Board, and the nearby Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) in Twentynine Palms.
About half the money, or $702,500, came from the Marine Corps through the Pentagon’s Readiness Environmental Protection Initiative program, which protects land near military bases. The money was used for a conservation easement, which means the land can never be developed, protecting a key aviation corridor between the base and military air stations in southern California.
“The Combat Center is committed to partnering with local organizations in order to find mutually beneficial land use solutions. The entire community benefits when we can find common ground in our shared values and goals between the local communities, supporting the unique desert environment and supporting, preserving and enhancing the military training mission,” said Jim Ricker, Assistant Chief of Staff, G5 Plans of MCAGCC.
The California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) provided $685,000. John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, said “The acquisition of this property will help preserve the Joshua Tree North Linkage that is part of the larger Joshua Tree-Twentynine Palms habitat linkage connection. The property will preserve habitat and potential habitat for listed and special status species including the state and federally listed desert tortoise.”
Mojave Desert Land Trust, founded in 2005, is a 501(c)(3) public charity whose mission is to protect the Mojave Desert ecosystem and its scenic and cultural resource values. Located in Joshua Tree, CA, Mojave Desert Land Trust has preserved over 41,000 acres of desert land through acquisition, land stewardship, and strategic partnerships. The Land Trust will host two clean-up events on The Gateway Parcel, Section 33, on Saturday, March 16th and on April 20th in celebration of Earth Day. Everyone is welcome to attend. For more information about these events or the Land Trust contact Kimberly Bowers at 760-366-5440 or visit mojavedesertlandtrust.org
Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.