News.bytes Extra, issue 198

Desert restoration crews getting it done

A seven-member crew is restoring areas in the Dead Mountains, Piute Mountains, Old Woman Mountains and Bigelow Cholla Garden in the deserts of Southern California. The crews are supported by BLM's California Desert District and are making a difference this year in the desert. (continued below first photo)

Above: Two crew members distribute seed over vertical mulch and pits dug near in the Bigelow Cholla Garden Wilderness Area. The pits will collect water and -- along with native seeds -- encourage natural re-vegetation of a way.

"We've encountered a variety of different needs for restoration that range from old graded roadways that lead to mines, to just a line through the crypto from a lone dirt-biker wandering off course," said crew member Patrick Donnelly.

The restoration crew restored over 60 ways in the Old Woman Mountains, where they have spent the bulk of their time. The restoration crews had to take into account the elevation and proximity to mountains in determining what types of vegetation to use. Bajada on the western side of the mountains is dominated by creosote, but vegetation on the eastern side is more diverse - with yucca, cholla, cat's claw and bittlebrush that provide a wide variety of choices of vertical mulch.

"We've had some memorable times in the Old Womans," says Donnelly. "Hiking into a deep canyon, we found a cactus garden with five different species of cactus growing right next to each other!"

The crew - called "Restoration Crew V" - is currently working in BLM's Needles resource area and hopes to complete restoration work by spring.

Below: the crew plants "vertical mulch" to hide the old route and make it blend in with the surrounding desert.

News.bytes, issue 198

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