BLM California News.bytes 
News.bytes Extra, issue 528

Interagency Partnership Works Together to Restore Public Lands near Twentynine Palms

Representatives of several agencies and groups recently teamed up to restore public lands near Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree. The effort on Saturday, April 14, involved the United States Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command at 29 Palms, the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Park Service and the Student Conservation Association, along with the Bureau of Land Management. (text continues below)

A group of thirty to forty people huddle together for a group shot
U.S. Marines volunteers, Joshua Tree NP and BLM Barstow FO employees, SCA interns, & NPCA field representative

Marines from Twentynine Palms Marine Base, the Vegetation team from Joshua Tree National Park, park rangers from the BLM's Barstow Field Office and Seth Scheir from the California Desert Regional Office of the NPCA spent the day closing illegal off road traffic and picking up debris on BLM lands just southeast of the City of Twenty-Nine Palms and the Joshua Tree Oasis Visitors' Center.

"This event was a great opportunity to connect the surrounding communities with our public lands," says Josh Hoines, the Vegetation Manager for Joshua Tree National Park. "Our partnership is a reminder that we need to work together to protect the spectacular places in the Mojave Desert."

The morning started with a brief safety presentation and general description of the environment by BLM Park Rangers John Kavanaugh and Art Basulto. Afterwards, Josh, along with Miriam Lara-Vamstad, Katy Matthews and SCA interns Fred Smith and Nick Kainrath demonstrated how to install "vertical mulch" (pictures below). Vertical mulching involves the working a barren or disturbed area to make it seem more natural. This activity consists of making plants out of dead and down materials while also raking out the Illegal OHV tracks. 

A crowd watches four people standing by dried plants, one holding a tall rake
NPS Biologist Miriam Lara-Vamstad, SCA Intern Fred Smith, and BLM Park Rangers John Kavanaugh and Art Basulto demonstrate some common restoration methods.

An NPS employee in uniform stands near vertical mulch. Three other people stand nearby, one with a shovel, and one raking.
U.S. Marine volunteers, NPS Biologist Miriam Lara-Vamstad and SCA Intern Nick Kainrath show results in the field.

The volunteers and outdoor professionals were placed into eight work crews who spent the better part of the day restoring disturbed areas and collecting trash and refuse. The day concluded with a presentation on the Desert Tortoise by NPCA field representative Seth Scheir with lunch of sandwiches and chips provided by NPCA.

In total, more than two acres of lands were restored, five illegal routes were closed and more than eleven hundred pounds of debris were removed from the public lands. "The event was the first time I can recall these three neighboring agencies partnering together to better our public lands in the area known as the saddle," Scheir said. 

People load trash as diverse as soda cups to couches into the backs of trucks
BLM Park Ranger John Kavanaugh leads a crew of U.S. Marine volunteers in collecting over 1100 pounds of refuse.

The idea for the event came from the NPCA, which then approached both the BLM and NPS and later contacted the 29 Palms Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command to complete the interagency partnership. Seth brought this event together and led the event along with Josh, with some paperwork and field assistance from Barstow BLM Wilderness Coordinator Tim Williamson. "These events introduce us to new methods and new colleagues, who together help all of us who love the desert make a bigger difference," said Park Ranger Art Basulto.

- Tim Williamson, Outdoor Recreation Planner – Barstow Field Office (April 18, 2012)

Two people stand by their restoration project, their shovels near them on the ground

A group of five people work on planting in an area with sparse vegetation
Another successful restoration activity from the Marines.

- Tim Williamson, outdoor recreation planner, BLM Barstow Field Office (April 18, 2012)

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 528 -- To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: OR visit our News.bytes subscription page.