Chelsea Collins recognized for conservation work at Dos Palmas Preserve

Tall palm trees tower over an oasis.

Amidst the Colorado Desert, hundreds of fan palms sway above pools of water fed by artesian springs. It isn’t a mirage, but the 1,400-acre Dos Palmas Preserve Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), an oasis with lush wetlands and desirable wildlife habitat near the Salton Sea in Riverside County, California. The area is home to several threatened and endangered species and rare plants. 

In 2022, BLM Natural Resource Specialist Chelsea Collins orchestrated several resource projects to enhance the Dos Palmas Preserve ACEC. The first project was a 133-acre invasive plant herbicide treatment targeting non-native tamarisk and a subsequent prescribed burn to stimulate regrowth of native vegetation to create habitat for the endangered Yuma Ridgway’s rail and California black rail. The BLM partnered with the Center for Natural Lands Management under a California Department of Water Resources, Proposition 1 Grant. The prescribed burn benefitted culturally important native vegetation like basket rush, desert fan palm, and deergrass, which are harvested to manufacture traditional baskets. Chelsea coordinated the prescribed burn with the California Desert District’s fire and fuels crew and supported an informational pre-burn site tour with the local Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. 

Chelsea also managed a 65-acre project with the BLM Fuels and Fire Program on a tamarisk cut-stump noxious weed treatment outside of the prescribed burn area and coordinated the planting of 200 screwbean mesquite and palo verde trees, grown at Joshua Tree National Park Nursery from seed collected at Dos Palmas Preserve, on about 55 acres of the ACEC to support the Coachella Canal Lining Project Mitigation. Chelsea secured additional funding to complete projects for invasive plant and aquatic species and to protect the endangered desert pupfish.  

For Chelsea’s outstanding management and vision for the Dos Palmas Preserve ACEC and her dedication, organization, partnerships and outreach, she received Honorable Mention for BLM’s Conservation Project of the Year. Congratulations Chelsea! 

Chelsea Collins receives award from Michael Vermeys, Assistant FM for PSSC_Photo by BLM

Since 1980, the BLM has managed the Dos Palmas Preserve under special designation and management as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern to protect important fish and wildlife and other natural resources. In 2000, the BLM entered an agreement with the Center for Natural Lands Management and San Diego County Water Authority to conserve, improve, and manage the Dos Palmas Preserve for sensitive resources. The Dos Palmas Preserve ACEC is also managed for biological diversity, to conserve genetic diversity of species, and for educational, interpretive and recreational use.  

Kate Miyamoto, Public Affairs Specialist, California Desert District

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