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BLM California News.bytes 
News.bytes Extra, issue 560

Interagency Cooperation at Work in the High Desert

a work crew in yellow safety helmets
Barstow BLM Field Staff, US Forest Service Personnel, SCA WildCorp and Urban Conservation Corp crew members pose next to their work in Rattlesnake Canyon.

In the space of two weeks, the Bureau of Land Management’s Barstow Field Office worked with two agencies and three different partnerships groups to both rehabilitate public lands and promote conservation themes in the surrounding communities.  Activities within the two weeks included: rehabilitation efforts in multiple locations, putting in multiple barriers to prevent illegal Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) use, repairing riparian areas, working on fencing near grazing allotments, education events and outreach opportunities and reshaping walking paths leading to popular destinations.  At the center of all these activities in the High Desert were five members of the Student Conservation Association’s NLCS WildCorp.
The first interagency partnership occurred in Rattlesnake Canyon, and brought together the San Bernardino National Forest and the BLM Barstow Field Office.  Organized by Carly Gibson, a restoration specialist out of the US Forest Service’s Big Bear Ranger Station and Miguel Mejia, a Barstow BLM biological technician, this project also teamed together two different youth group teams to help implement the logistics of the week.  The Student Conservation Association’s (SCA) NLCS WildCorp crew and the Urban Conservation Corp (UCC), along with other Forest Service and BLM field staff installed a half-mile barrier and rehabilitated more than a mile of illegal routes to help prevent illegal OHV intrusions into Forest Wilderness areas. “By working together and combining our limited resources, projects like these which benefit both agencies are more successful,” said Mejia.
The San Bernardino National Forest Association Urban Conservation Corps is a workforce development program that offers young men and women the chance to serve on our public lands and become employable citizens through hard work in environmental conservation.  The SCA's mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of our environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land. 

a group of workers poses for a photo
Barstow BLM Field Crew, Joshua Tree National Park Personnel & SCA Interns, SCA WildCorp and volunteers from the Mojave Land Trust at work near Nolina Peak.

The second interagency project involved a shared National Park Service and BLM border near the town of Joshua Tree.  Project leads Miriam Vamstad, a restoration ecologist for the park, and Mizuki Hanford of the Mojave Land Trust arranged for a day of rehabilitation work near the newly-donated land near Nolina Peak.  Park Service vegetation program manager Josh Hoines and the Park’s SCA interns met up with BLM field staff, the SCA WildCorp crew and 10 dedicated Mojave Land Trust volunteers on Saturday December 1.  The day’s schedule included rehabilitating some lands disturbed by illegal OHV use, reinforcing barriers on the shared BLM/NPS border and installing signs indicating what was being done.
Lands bought by the Mojave Land Trust and donated to Joshua Tree National Park have recently experienced some impacts.  BLM, NPS and the Mojave Land Trust personnel came together and their combined resources to address these impacts.  Barriers were either installed or repaired, boulders and debris were used to prevent continued intrusions and some perimeter fences were lengthened.  OHV tracks were eliminated and the affected lands were rehabilitated to a more natural condition.
“Project days like these -- ones which help connect our agencies, the land stewardship organizations, future land stewards like the SCA and the volunteers from the surrounding communities -- help all of us manage these precious resources better,” said Vamstad.  “By coming together and planning our activities, we can achieve better results”.

youth working in the wilderness
SCA WildCorp Members Lauren Sherman & Scott Shinton helping to rehabilitate our public lands.

workers install fencing
Joshua Tree NP SCA Interns & SCA WildCorp Crew work with Mojave Land Trust Volunteers work to protect new additions to the National Park.

Lastly, BLM Barstow personnel and the SCA WildCorp branched out with some of the Barstow Field Office’s partners to participate in some unique outreach opportunities.  An informational booth was organized with Jenny Wilder of the Friends of Juniper Flats at the Victorville Farmers’ Market.  The morning was spent talking to local residents about outdoor recreational possibilities within the area and discussing how these lands are being managed.  Another informational table was held up in Shoshone during the town’s Old West Days event.   SCA WildCorp also participated in educational sessions in Barstow and staffed a BLM booth in Juniper Flats during Thanksgiving weekend.  WildCorp members talked to OHV riders, handed out maps of the area, passed along hunting information to interested parties and answered questions about how they came to the Mojave Desert.  “We were able to connect the field work we are doing with the people using the lands,” said SCA WildCorp member Marcus Perry.

people talk around an information booth
SCA WildCorp along with Jenny Wilder of the Friends of Juniper Flats set up a joint BLM information booth at a local Farmers’ Market.

a group of people sit at a table awaiting visitors
BLM Staff Personnel and the SCA WildCorp prepare for an evening of public contacts in Barstow.

- Tim Williamson, Wilderness Specialist, BLM Barstow Field Office (December, 2012)

BLM California News.bytes, issue 560 -- To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: mailto:Join-Newsbytes@List.ca.blm.gov OR visit our News.bytes subscription page.

Last updated: 12-07-2012