Mojave National Preserve's vast expanse of desert lands includes one of the most diverse desert environments in the world, representing three of the four major North American deserts: the Mojave, Great Basin, and Sonoran. The Preserve is a land of old mountain ranges, sand dunes, great mesas and volcanic features such as cinder cones, domes, and lava flows. The most ancient rocks in the preserve, found in the Clark Mountains, are 2.5 billion years old.
The Preserve's remarkable geology and geography contributes to its unique ecology. Changes in elevation and soil type, combined with dozens of seeps and springs, create a wide range of microhabitats that support a rich diversity of plants and animals. This diverse ecology has produced 35 wildlife habitat types that support over 800 plant species, including the world's largest and densest Joshua tree forest, and nearly 300 wildlife species, including the gila monster, Mohave tui chub, Mojave fringe-toed lizard, prairie falcon, golden eagle, mule deer, mountain lions, and bighorn sheep. Nearly half of the Preserve is critical habitat for the endangered desert tortoise.
NPCA at Work in the Parks
While this region won important protections in 1994 with the passage of the California Desert Protection Act, the desert parks are increasingly endangered by the sprawling growth of southern California and Nevada, environmentally threatening policies, and lack of funding for the parks' protection and management. NPCA's California Desert Program is currently working to protect Mojave National Preserve in a number of ways: fighting a harmful water extraction scheme that would negatively impact its desert springs; supporting management policies that protect the preserve's remarkable wilderness experience; protecting the preserve's deep natural silence, long views, and wildlife migration corridors from the development of a neighboring International Airport; and working to expand the park, protecting sensitive lands that are home to iconic species such as desert tortoise and bighorn sheep.
Unfortunately, park wildlife and natural resources are increasingly at risk from encroachment by poorly sited industrial-scale solar energy development. Mojave's clear skies and abundant sunshine make the surrounding area a natural choice for solar arrays, and solar power is good for America's future, but massive projects located adjacent to natural parks can interfere with fragile, biologically rich lands and harm habitat for a variety of specially adapted plants and animals, such as the endangered desert tortoise.
NPCA's California Desert Field Office seeks to inform the public about issues concerning California's desert parks, involve the public in solution to these issues, and encourage enjoyment and protection of park lands.
- Read NPCA's August 2012 report on solar development in the desert
- Watch a slideshow of photos and fun facts about this park.
- Read a May 2012 blog story about solar development in the nearby Ivanpah Valley