Eureka Valley sand dunes

From the Verge of Extinction To An Ecosystem Saved: A Botanist’s Story

About a half decade ago I was introduced to two very rare plants found only in a few sandy spots in the northwest corner of Death Valley National Park. After driving all day, my team was at the base of what are believed to be the tallest sand dunes in North America. The dunes appeared ominous, endless, yet inviting.

It was late May and unbelievably cold. The average temperature at that time of year is usually pushing 100 degrees in the afternoon, but on this day we were bundled up in sweaters and rain jackets. We even saw snow flurries in the northern part of the valley while driving in. Snow in May in Death Valley? Definitely the land of extremes!

The wind was blowing harshly across the dunes as we trekked out in search of the Eureka dune grass (Swallenia alexandrae) and the Eureka Valley evening primrose (Oenothera californica subspecies eurekensis). These two species are not only limited to California, but they’re Eureka Valley endemics—meaning they’re only found in a few sections of Eureka Valley and nowhere else on the planet.  (more…)

Point Arena.

Here’s Your National Monument on the Mendocino Coast, America!

Barack Obama has a ways to go if he wants to top the 19 new national monuments created during Bill Clinton’s two terms in the White House, but with President Obama’s addition of 1,665 stunning acres of Pacific cliffs and coastline to the California Coastal National Monument today, great progress is being made.

Until now, the California Coastal National Monument was little known because it was all underwater. It’s crucial coastline, home to kelp beds and sea mammals and river access for endangered salmon. As of today, there’s land for the humans to venture onto—along with the rare Point Arena mountain beaver that lives here along the dramatic Northern California coast: The Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands have been permanently placed under the protection of the National Monument system. (more…)

Take care of your towns and everything around them!

Joshua Tree Victory: Town Defeats Unwanted Retail Chain

Our fellow Greenfriars report from Joshua Tree, California, that David has indeed toppled Goliath. For two years, people in the tiny Mojave Desert village of Joshua Tree—the gateway to the iconic Joshua Tree National Park—have been fighting a giant corporate retail chain called “Dollar General.” Nobody wanted this WalMart-style low-wage retailer around, and the community actually got organized and fought it … and it looks like they’re winning. (more…)