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California Desert District
Release Date: 11/30/10
Contacts: David Briery , (951) 697-5220 or  
  Stephen Razo , (951) 697-5217  
News Release No. CDD-11-15

Burned Palm Tree Oasis Should Recover

Many of the approximately 90 native California fan palms in the Willis Oasis portion of the Coachella Valley Preserve that burned last Friday, Nov. 26, should recover, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials said today.  The fire, called the Palm Fire, burned uncontained for nearly three hours in the preserve east of Palm Springs.  BLM, CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department, and the U.S. Forest Service responded to the fire, the cause of which remains under investigation.

Though the fire denuded the trees of their palm fronds and skirts (vertically hanging dead fronds), the canopy of live palm fronds should grow back next spring.  The full skirts of the older, mature palms will take many years to recover, however.  Thus, for the time being, bird, bat, and other small mammal habitat will be impacted. 

The Willis Oasis is just one of about 30 palm oases along the San Andreas Fault.  The oases exist in the harsh environment because the fault enables water flowing underground to rise to the surface to support the palms.  Among the oases, the spectacular Thousand Palms Oasis also includes a mile-long trail alongside pools containing endangered desert pupfish. 

More than 183 bird species have been recorded in the preserve, including Gambel’s quail, black-throated sparrows, phainopeplas, black-tailed gnatcatchers, and American bitterns.  The 20,000-acre preserve is jointly managed by the BLM, The Nature Conservancy, California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and California Department of Parks and Recreation.


California Desert District   22835 Calle San Juan de Los Lagos, Moreno Valley, CA 92553  

Last updated: 11-30-2010