The Crown Jewel of the Desert Collaborative tree planting project helps restore the Amargosa River
By Chris Otahal, Wildlife Biologist. Photos are courtesy of Matt Rader, The Nature Conservancy.
Often called the "Crown Jewel of the Mojave Desert," the Amargosa is the only free-flowing river in the Death Valley region of the Mojave, providing a rare and lush riparian area in the desert. The narrow Amargosa Canyon is known for its dense greenery and the shallow Amargosa River, complete with "hanging gardens" and a small waterfall.
In 2006, the Bureau of Land Management started an intensive program to remove tamarisk, a non-native invasive tree, from the area. We relied heavily on the natural growth of native trees in treated areas, but some areas needed active restoration by planting native trees. Over the last six years, the Barstow Field Office, with the Mojave Desert Native Plant Program and other partners including Amargosa Conservancy, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Victor Valley Community College, and Caltrans, has put forth extensive work to restore habitat on lands in the Amargosa Wild and Scenic River Area.
The most recent collaborative effort saw 400 hours of work and 20,000 native trees planted to help restore habitat along the Amargosa Wild and Scenic River. Over a five-day period, partners from The Nature Conservancy, Ecoculture, and GE Forestry toiled in the soil, planting 880 screwbean mesquite trees, 3,000 coyote willow poles, and 11,000 coyote willow stems on two sites near the town of Shoshone, CA and China Ranch.
Our partners covered approximately 2.5 acres along the Amargosa Wild and Scenic River and planted additional trees on private land in Shoshone. The trees were started from native seeds and poles sourced along the Amargosa River, which serves to preserve the genetic diversity of the native species and is key to proper restoration of this unique place.
The tree planting project by The Nature Conservancy, and our other valued partners, is a huge leap forward as we continue to restore the “Crown Jewel of the Mojave Desert” – the Amargosa River. We extend our thanks to our partners and volunteers whose efforts are producing real and positive results in the restoration of the Amargosa Wild and Scenic River to the benefit of current and future generations.