News.bytes Extra, issue 226

California Desert Nature Festival

BLM's Palm Springs Field Office and a number of its dedicated volunteers participated in the California Desert Nature Festival April 6 to April 9 in Palm Desert. BLM's contributions included a wind energy tour, a presentation on the desert tortoise, a field trip to the desert plam oasis, and a booth with information on the Santa Rosa/San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. Volunteers and Big Morongo Preserve hosts Dee and Betty Zeller shared the latest news on the restoration and reopening of the Preserve after a devastating wildfire last year. Hands-on activities available for youth included a "stomachs inside out lesson" on the food web, by BLM's Big Morongo preserve volunteers.

The California Desert Nature Festival is organized by the Natural Science Collaborative of the Desert Region, a group of environmental educators which works closely with the BLM. The festival celebrated its second year this weekend, and continued to provide a variety of ecotourism opportunities, from guided desert hikes to shopping for spotting scopes to presentation on BLM wilderness. About 2500 people enjoyed the Festival, which brought in ecotourists from many outside areas.

BLM staff and volunteers made presentations on a variety of topics related to BLM's multiple-use mission:

  • Windmill Tour (Claude Kirby, realty specialist)
  • Guided Birdwalks (Dee Zeller, Big Morongo Preserve host)
  • BLM Wilderness: A Resource Legacy (Justin Seastrand, wilderness specialist),
  • Courtship of the Desert Tortoise, (Mark Massar, wildlife biologist)
  • Mecca Hills Restoration Project (Patrick Donnely, SCA Crew Leader),
  • Palm Oasis Ecology field trip (Tracy Albrecht, interpretive specialist),
  • A Count Down to Earthquakes (Joe Migliore, BLM volunteer),
  • Paradise Fire Hike through Big Morongo Canyon (Frank and Sue Currie, BLM volunteers)
  • A Gastronomical Food Web (Pat Stoner, BLM volunteer)
  • Scat, Tracks and Animal Facts (Carol Meade, BLM volunteer)

Authors and illustrators Debbie Bertram, Susan Bloom, and Stuart Fink hosted a book signing on their recently released children's' book about a modern-day adventure through the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

The Festival kept the public updated with a very detailed website (http://www.californiadesertnaturefestival.com/). Betty Zeller and Charlene Tice (BLM-Big Morongo Canyon Preserve) organized the registration for the Festival.

Photos from participants were posted on the Web by Festival organizers.

Below, from left: Among those helping with the festival on behalf of BLM were Jim Foote, Acting National Monument Manager; Tracy Albrecht, Interpretive Specialist; and Lance Albrecht, BLM volunteer)
Posing among displays at the festival are some of those helping with the festival on behalf of BLM: Jim Foote, Acting National Monument Manager, Tracy Albrecht, Interpretive Specialist, Lance Albrecht, BLM volunteer)

BLM California News.bytes, issue 226