From colorful wildflower blooms to endangered desert tortoises, these Desert Treasures reveal a remarkable and diverse landscape that should be protected for future generations.
The future of these lands is being planned with the recent release of a joint federal and state report, the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), a comprehensive effort to help guide long term planning for conservation of key desert plant and animal species and habitats - as well as identifying sites that are suitable for renewable energy. Through this plan, specially identified lands will be put off limits to future renewable energy development.
· Nov. 11, 2014 – Rainbow Basin – Owl Canyon, in Rainbow Basin, is a spectacular canyon, where desert tortoises make their homes amongst the colored rocks and the power of geology to shape a landscape is on display. The hike is moderate, with some rock scrambling required. Bring the kids and celebrate Veterans Day in this incredible, lightly visited desert gem. This 3-4 hour, 3-4 mile round trip hike, will be in the late afternoon to show off the colorful canyon walls at their best.
· Dec. 6, 2014 – Chuckwalla Bench – The Wilderness Society will partner with the Mojave Desert Land Trust to lead a daylong driving tour of Chuckwalla Basin on the historic Bradshaw Trail. This tour will require 4WD vehicles. Though we’ll be covering a lot of ground, we’ll be getting out of our vehicles frequently to enjoy this wild, scenic, and little-visited part of the Colorado Desert, home to one of the best habitats for the endangered desert tortoise.
The Wilderness Society is spotlighting 12 California Desert Treasures in these tours, on its wilderness.org website and in a booklet to focus on some of the many special places in the California desert that should be preserved for wildlife, cultural riches and recreation.
“Each of the treasures has unique characteristics from the colorful pastel geology of Rainbow Basin to the rich wildlife that thrives at Chuckwalla Bench,” said Matt Jatovsky, a former ranger at the Mojave National Preserve and now California Desert Representative for The Wilderness Society.
The first tour on Oct. 18 with The Wildlands Conservancy to Mission Creek and Whitewater Canyon was so successful that organizers said they will plan another tour to explore the scenic canyon, views of Mount San Gorgonio and habitat for endangered least Bell's vireo and southwestern willow flycatcher.
The Wildlands Conservancy owns and operates California's largest nonprofit nature preserve system including sites in Whitewater Canyon and its adjacent Mission Creek Preserve.
In the coming months, The Wilderness Society and partners will host trips to other Desert Treasures.
Future tours will include iconic American lands such as the remote Silurian Valley, which is at the heart of a special desert region with breathtaking vistas and traces of the Old Spanish Trail once used by travelers in the 1800s; and Big Morongo Canyon, with its year-round creek that feeds one of the state’s largest riparian habitats of its kind, attracting hundreds of bird species.