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Programs>National Conservation Lands>Learning Landscapes>In the Spotlight>NPLD 2009
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Learning Landscapes Spotlight Feature

National Public Lands Day 2009 Brings Volunteers
to California’s Santa Rosa Wilderness

On National Public Lands Day 2009, the Bureau of Land Management’s Palm Springs–South Coast Field Office hosted a tamarisk-removal project in the Santa Rosa Wilderness, located in the rugged Santa Rosa Mountains of southern California. Volunteers, including several College of the Desert students and other local residents, hiked approximately one mile into the wilderness to help eliminate tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima), an invasive, water-guzzling plant species also known as saltcedar. The plant poses a serious threat to native riparian plant communities and the animals that depend on them for habitat.

Tamarisk crowds out beneficial native plants such as cottonwoods. National Public Lands Day volunteers used tools to cut back tamarisk as well as herbicides to kill the plants.
National Public Lands Day volunteers used tools to cut back tamarisk as well as herbicides to kill the plants.

Using a variety of tools, such as loppers and hand saws, the volunteers braved the unseasonably hot weather and managed to remove roughly a quarter-mile of tamarisk from Sheep Canyon, an area important to the Federally-listed, endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni). The Santa Rosa Mountains support the largest herd of these sheep in the United States.

In 1998, the Peninsular bighorn sheep was listed by the Federal government as an endangered species.

During a much-needed midday break, a BLM archaeologist spoke about the prehistoric Native American culture of the area, and a BLM outdoor recreation planner/volunteer coordinator discussed the merits of National Public Lands Day and the history of our nation’s National Wilderness Preservation System

Before Tamarisk Removal After Tamarisk Removal