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News.bytes Extra, issue 481

Ridgecrest holds First Annual Desert Wildflower Festival

Ridgecrest held its First Annual Desert Wildflower Festival on April 15 -17, the weekend of the Maturango Museum's popular annual Wildflower show. (text continues below)

groups of yellow and purple wildflowers amid the rocky landscape near Ridgecrest, California

For decades Ridgecrest's  Maturango Museum has held an event in which docents display hundreds of wildflower species. Volunteers with BLM permits collect plants within a 50-mile radius of Ridgecrest. Volunteers then identify the plants and display the different species with name tags and where they were collected.  This year's display had more than 200 species representing over 40 plant families. BLM biologists Shelley Ellis and Carrie Woods, and botanist Glenn Harris helped collect flowers and identify species.  The Museum featured its Xeriscape Demonstration Garden with species that are well-adapted to Ridgecrest’s arid desert environment.  Lucinda Sue Crosby of the Indian Wells Valley Water District gave a presentation, "If Water Conservation is the Question, Xeriscape is the Answer!"

Other programs included:  geocaching, wildflower photography, painting wildflowers, desert bird and reptile identification, petroglyph tales, sailplane adventures, desert geology, Red Rock Canyon State Park, and an astronomical observatory.  Bob Parker, former BLM Biologist and current president of the Ridgecrest Turtle and Tortoise Club, hosted a booth explaining how to adopt captive-reared desert tortoises. Kahlee Brighton of The Wildflower Conservancy presented a program entitled "Capturing Ephemeral Beauty: A Celebration of California’s Wildflowers”, which featured the efforts of the Wildflower Conservancy to encourage people to enjoy wildflowers responsibly. 

The Desert Wildflower Festival generates public awareness of the natural scenic beauty of Ridgecrest and its surroundings, composed mainly of BLM-administered lands. Volunteers conducted guided tours, taking visitors out for short hikes to local wildflower hot spots.  Vendors, artists, and organizations had booths at Ridgecrest’s Kerr McGee Center explaining opportunities in the area.  Staff at BLM booth distributed brochures on the desert tortoise, local wildflowers, butterflies, and hiking in the area.  BLM staff Elaine Hanson, Rob Enriquez, Ruby Allen, and Robert Pawelek talked to visitors about BLM topics such as filming, wild horse and burro adoptions, OHV events, wildlife viewing and wilderness areas. The booklet for the Festival discusses some of the area’s top filming locations, which include BLM-managed Trona Pinnacles and Cuddeback Dry Lake Bed. Learn more at www.filmdeserts.com

The following Saturday, BLM biologist Shelley Ellis led a tour for the California Native Plant Society to the area of Indian Wells Canyon that burned in July, 2010.  Approximately 75% of the fire was within the Owens Peak Wilderness Area and included 2 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. The field trip explored the various species that have established following fire. A variety of wildflowers created colorful carpets of shades of purple, pink, blue, and yellow.

Wildlfowers bloom in the burned area.
yellow, white and purple wildflowers in a field, with burned trees in the background

Tidy tips in bloom
close-up of a white flower among yellow flowers

Scale bud (Anisocoma acaulis) among coreopsis.
white flowers among a group of yellow flowers

To see what will be happening in the spring of 2012 at the 2nd Annual Ridgecrest Desert Wildflower Festival, visit www.ridgecrestdesertwildflowerfestival.com/

- Shelley Ellis, wildlife biologist, BLM Ridgecrest Field Office, 5/17/11

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 481
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Last updated: 05-18-2011