Mojave Desert Land Trust Closes Escrow on Quail Mountain Project to Acquire 955 Acres in Joshua Tree
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mojave Desert Land Trust
Joshua Tree, CA – Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) announced today that it has successfully completed the acquisition of 955 acres of pristine wildlife habitat on the northern boundary of Joshua Tree National Park. The acquisition will permanently preserve a section of wildlife corridor required for the movement of bighorn sheep, badger, mule deer, mountain lion and dozens of bird species, in addition to providing pristine habitat for the recovery of the threatened desert tortoise. The acquisition also protects a key aviation corridor fromevelopment which would be incompatible with the mission of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) in 29 Palms, CA.
The acquisition was made possible through public and private donations, MDLT’s land acquisition fund, partnership funding provided by the Department of the Navy on behalf of MCAGCC, and Copper Mountain College in Joshua Tree, CA.
The acquisition protects a vital section of wildlife corridor and habitat that reaches beyond the northern boundary of Joshua Tree National Park, where animals must travel in order to survive.The Park maintained its support and commitment to the acquisition throughout the campaign. Curt Sauer,Superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park stated:
“The Mojave Desert Land Trust is our primary partner in conservation of park lands, having acquired over 21,000 acres in the Desert Parks, including Nolina Peak. Over two years ago, Regional Director, Jon Jarvis, confirmed the Park Service's interest in obtaining protected status for these 955 acres. We are happy that MDLT has been successful in their endeavor, and we look forward to working with them to add these lands to Joshua Tree.”
To complete the project, the Department of the Navy and MDLT inked a five-year Encroachment Protection Agreement to partner on land acquisition projects that mutually benefit MCAGCC’s encroachment protection strategies and the Land Trust’s mission to protect wildlife habitat and other lands with high conservation values. The Department of the Navy provided $431,000 to acquire conservation easements on the land, enabling the Land Trust to complete the first acquisition under the agreement. Jim Ricker, Assistant Chief of Staff, G5 Plans at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, spoke about the acquisition”
"The safeguarding of this property is a win-win for all. In these tough economic times, it helps preserve the jobs on the Marine base by protecting and preserving the mission of the base, as well as provides for pristine land to be here for our children and our grandchildren to enjoy."
In addition to the Department of the Navy and MDLT’s funds, Copper Mountain College (CMC) added $90,000 to the Quail Mountain Project to fulfill mitigation requirements from their Habitat Conservation Plan. The Quail Mountain project will preserve hundreds of acres of high density tortoise habitat that fulfills CMC’s requirement to acquire 30 acres of tortoise habitat.
Nancy Karl, Executive Director of Mojave Desert Land Trust, spoke about the partnerships and the 18-month campaign:
“This is a major victory for our partners, land trust members and for the protection of the Quail Mountain ecosystem. We congratulate and thank the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center and Copper Mountain College, along with every one of our Land Trust members, for their unwavering dedication to the project during the last eighteen months. Their commitment to preserving vital desert land ensures that future generations will experience the beautiful natural areas that we appreciate today. We look forward to ushering the land into the safe hands of Joshua Tree National Park for its permanent protection.”
John Simpson, Secretary and founding Board member of the Land Trust, added, “We have done something even greater than purchase 955 acres of land. We have proven that we can overcome great challenges and that great achievements can begin with small risks. In doing so, we have truly grown as an organization. I’m so proud of what we accomplished, and even prouder to know that the effects of our efforts will last forever.”
MDLT will announce a celebration for its members and partners in the near future. For information on the Quail Mountain Project or the Mojave Desert Land Trust, contact Nancy Karl, Executive Director, at 760-366-5440 or visit www.mojavedesertlandtrust.org.