A series of community events will be held throughout October and November in celebration of the anniversary.

JOSHUA TREE, CA – California’s desert communities will celebrate the National Park Service Centennial and highlight all the region’s protected public lands this Fall with a series of community events. These activities are being held throughout the desert to encourage local families and residents to explore these special places.

“The National Park Service Centennial is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our desert, its cultural significance, and what it adds to our lives,” said Tanya Henderson, Interim Executive Director of the Amargosa Conservancy. “Public lands in the California Desert contribute significantly to our quality of life, offering places to hike, camp, fish and more.”

From October 1 to November 5, nine events will take place; including opportunities to learn about our California Desert history, birding expeditions, overnight hiking and camping trips, stargazing events, and many more. As these celebrations take place, these communities are renewing their commitment to protect California Desert public lands for the next century and beyond.

“We have a lot to celebrate this year in the California Desert,” said Monica Mahoney, Director of Education and Public Engagement for the Mojave Desert Land Trust. “We are so grateful that President Obama designated three new California Desert National Monuments this year, adding to the wonders of our region. These are places where you can experience plants and animals not found anywhere else on our planet.”

After urging from Senator Feinstein, President Obama designated the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains National Monuments in the California Desert in early 2016. These public lands are now permanently protected for generations to explore and enjoy.

“In recognition of all that our public lands contribute to our way of life, now is the time to recommit ourselves to protecting these places,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “Whether you regularly hike and camp or have yet to experience the wonder of these lands – come join us to learn, explore and delight in all the California Desert offers to us.”

Saturday, October 1 – OLD SPANISH TRAIL DAY

10:00 am – 3:00 pm – Discover the spirit and adventure of the Old Spanish Trail National Historic Trail, America’s first overland trading route between New Mexico and Los Angeles. Attendees will experience an 1800’s Living history encampment, mule packing & weaponry demonstrations, a Navajo Churro Sheep enclosure, and even desert animals. The day’s entertainment will include a Mariachi band, bluegrass music, folkloric dance, kids art projects, quick draw prizes and Viola Basulto’s famous Cocina de Movida homemade New Mexican cooking. Desert Discovery Center, 831 Barstow Rd., Barstow, CA 92311. Contact: Jane Laraman-Brockhurst , 760-252-6060 – Jane@DesertDiscoveryCenter.com

Sunday, October 2 – SAND TO SNOW NATIONAL MONUMENT BIG MORONGO BIRDING

8:00 am – 10:00 am – Join lifelong bird nerd Seth Shteir to learn about the ecological importance of Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. Attendees will learn the basics of bird ecology, identification and conservation on this easy walk. Binoculars will be provided! Big Morongo Canyon Preserve parking lot – 11055 East Drive, Morongo Valley, CA. FREE admission. Contact: Seth Shteir, National Parks Conservation Association – 760-332-9776

Saturday & Sunday, October 8-9 – AFTON CANYON CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION: COMMUNITY CAMPOUT & STEWARDSHIP PROJECT

10:00 am – Amargosa Conservancy will host a group from Nuevo Comienzo Church to camp in the canyon, conduct bird surveys and map invasive tamarisk. Afton Canyon is often referred to as the “Grand Canyon” of the Mojave Desert, and the use of off-road vehicles, cattle grazing and the introduction of non-native plants to the canyon led its designation as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern in 1980. Through 12 years of restoration efforts, including the planting of more than 10,000 native trees, the Mojave River’s condition improved and migratory birds returned to the canyon. Today, over 180 species of birds have been spotted in Afton Canyon. Interested attendees must RSVP. FREE admission. Contact: Tanya Henderson, Amargosa Conservancy – 760-852-4339 – tanya@amargosaconservancy.org

Saturday, October 15 to Sunday, October 16 – CENTENNIAL EXCURSION AND FULL MOON OVERNIGHT CAMPING TRIP – A Community Celebration of Mojave National Preserve and Castle Mountains National Monument in honor of the NPS 100-year Anniversary

10:00 am – Mojave Desert Land Trust hosts the Centennial Excursion and Full Moon Campout, an overnight tour of significant cultural and biological treasures within the Mojave National Preserve and the Castle Mountains National Monument. The Centennial Excursion and Full Moon Campout is an overnight tour of significant cultural and biological treasures within the Mojave National Preserve and the Castle Mountains National Monument. The program celebrates the National Park Service (NPS) Centennial by gathering community leaders and members together for a journey to some of the most remote, newest and perhaps least understood NPS lands in the California Desert. Attendees will learn about and celebrate the new California Desert Monuments and MDLT’s role in achieving these protections, visit a Native American cultural site, and enjoy a full moon interpretive program and hike at the base of the newly protected Castle Mountains. Goffs, CA, exact location to be specified at time of RSVP. For press inquiries contact Shauna Tucker, Creative Services & Media Advisor Mojave Desert Land Trust shauna@mdlt.org (760) 366-5440. For program inquiries contact Monica Mahoney, Director of Education and Public Engagement Mojave Desert Land Trust monica@mdlt.org (760) 366-5440

Saturday, October 15 – HAPPY 100 NPS: BACKPACKING TRIP IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

12:00 pm – There’s no better way to celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Park Service than to pack your tent into the Joshua Tree National Park wilderness. Attendees will learn backpacking basics like safety and logistical planning, as well as the history, culture and nature that is so abundant in Joshua Tree National Park. Campers will hike between 3 and 5 miles each day over rough terrain with a heavy pack (approximately 30 pounds) and camp beneath the star-studded, pristine night skies away from civilization. Along the way they may spot wildlife, interesting desert plants and geologic formations. Participants will also learn about federally-designated wilderness and what they can do to protect the national parks for the next 100 years. Attendance limited, please RSVP. FREE admission.

Contact: Seth Shteir, National Parks Conservation Association – 760-332-9776

Friday-Sunday, October 28-30 – JOSHUA TREE 2016 NIGHT SKY FESTIVAL

Schedule of Events – The National Park Service, steward of Joshua Tree National Park and over 400 other park sites around the country, celebrated its 100th birthday in August, 2016. At Joshua Tree, we will continue our celebration of the NPS Centennial in October by bringing together astronomers, scientists, night-sky enthusiasts, artists, junior rangers, and members of nearby communities to celebrate the night skies of Joshua Tree National Park. This event is free of charge. Park entrance fees apply. Contact: Kevin Wong, Program Coordinator, Desert Institute – 760-267-5535

Saturday, October 29 – HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH AT WHITEWATER PRESERVE: AWARENESS, APPRECIATION AND ADVOCACY

The Wildlands Conservancy invites Hispanic community leaders from various organizations for dinner and a tour of the Whitewater Preserve to learn about access problems facing the Latino community in Sand to Snow National Monument. This event will help educate and empower Latino community leaders to develop and advocate for equitable solutions. The discussion will focus on current management policies in Whitewater Canyon that disadvantage the Latino community, and how Latino leaders can educate and activate their communities to push for improved access. Whitewater Preserve, 9160 Whitewater Canyon Rd., Whitewater, CA 92282. Attendance by invitation only. Contact: Jack Thompson, The Wildlands Conservancy – 760-325-7222 – jack.t@twc-ca.org

Saturday, November 4 & Sunday, November 5 – JOSHUA TREE WORKSHOP

9:00 am – This two-day workshop will explore the natural history of Joshua trees and their plant communities. The workshop will train attendees to conduct community science fieldwork on research being conducted within Joshua Tree National Park. Speakers will include Cameron Barrows, Chris Smith, Todd Esque and others. The workshop and community science fieldwork will directly contribute to data on existing Joshua tree sites, their health, their age, associated plant communities and migration trends. Participants will leave with newfound knowledge of these unique species and understanding of the intricate fragility of desert ecosystems. Black Rock Visitor Center, 9800 Black Rock Canyon Rd, Yucca Valley, CA. Online Registration is required at JT Workshop Registration. FREE admission. Contact: Kevin Wong, Program Coordinator, Desert Institute – 760-267-5535

Saturday, November 5 – MOJAVE NATIONAL PRESERVE STAR PARTY

Start Time TBA – The Mojave Star Party is a signature Mojave Desert event that has taken place twice annually since 2008. The event has developed a following due to the incredibly dark night skies found in the Eastern Mojave National Preserve, the excellent night sky education provided by the Pasadena Olde Town Astronomers, and the gigantic telescopes (some homemade) that the astronomers bring to the event for public use. The Star Party offers free camping at the Black Canyon Group camp, and dinner is potluck. The event will provide snacks, drinks, hikes the following day led by the Superintendent of the Mojave National Preserve, and interpretation by the National Park Service. This event draws a broad array of desert lovers including scientists, National Park Service employees, community leaders, media, students, and a diverse array of community members. Open to public. FREE admission. Contact: David Lamfrom – 760-957-7887 – dlamfrom@npca.org

by De Castillo, Palm Desert Patch

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