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California 2024- Mojave Desert Restoration

California 2024- Mojave Desert Restoration

Planting Location: Amargosa River Canyon China Ranch, California; Shoshone Wetlands, California; Clark Country Wetlands, Nevada.

Project Description/Objective: We will plant 50,000 riparian trees in three locations in California and Nevada in this phase of the project. The two sites in California are part of the Amargosa River watershed and one site is in the Virgin River watershed within city limits of Las Vegas. The species that we will plant include Fremont cottonwood, Goodding willow, Coyote Willow, Velvet Ash, and Screwbean Mesquite. Trees will be planted at 1 to 2-m spacing using a combination of planting bars and augers. For the 2023 planting, cottonwood and willow tree cuttings will be collected in December 2022 and transplanted to D40 pots at our greenhouse in Flagstaff, Arizona. Other species will be propagated from seeds collected from local sites. Site preparation includes removing weedy vegetation (primarily tamarisk) using mechanical treatment.

Ecological Benefits: The Amargosa and Virgin Rivers are two of the largest watershed in the Mojave Desert and critical habitat for a variety of rare and endemic species. Over the past century cattle grazing and invasive species have degraded or eliminated much of the native riparian habitat. Especially important is the screwbean mesquite tree that has experienced region-wide declines and is currently in the process of being listed as an endangered species. Over the past decade federal agencies, landowners, and non-profits have worked to remove tamarisk from much of the river systems. Increasing the amount of riparian area (acreage) and increasing the density (complexity) of current riparian area will provide additional and enhanced habitat for wildlife and improve flood and erosion control along streambanks.

Community Benefits: Several programs have been developed that include community benefits to this project:

The EcoKids program is excited to develop a project within the urban area of Las Vegas as the restoration site will become an outdoor learning laboratory for Las Vegas schools as well as be visited by hundreds of thousands of people. We are working with local schools to implement educational activities that coincide with restoration activities that kids will help to plant. The EcoKids program includes activities designed to:

I. Promote Stewardship of Nature – primarily reforestation, agroforestry, or citizen science development to promote innovation in land stewardship.

II. Developing a Culture of Conservation – aimed at place-based education, training related to nurturing a conservation ethos. Also, chronicling the unique aspects of culture as they relate to environmental management.

III. Abstract Expression – chronicling stories, art, videos related to I and II above. Focus can be on generating exposition of ideas in traveling art show, developing trails with Earth Art, etc. Community art is the theme rather than individually produced work. The Clark County wetlands will exhibit student art-work as part of the restoration process.

IV. Collective Global Sharing – networking and sharing ideas among partners as well as compiling ideas into broader thematic pieces that can be shared widely via publications, videos, writing, exhibits – as in III above.

Restoration Certificate Program - Our Restoration Certificate Program in cooperation with Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps is a conservation program specifically to support Native American youth. Youth are involved in planting trees and designing plans for future restoration activities. The Certificate Program includes a 6-month corps internship and 6 credits of coursework that is primarily field-based.

Types of Trees: Fremont Cottonwood - Populus fremontii (10%), Goodding Willow - Salix gooddingii (10%), Salix exigua (65%), Screwbean Mesquite - Prosopis pubescens (10%), Velvet Ash - Fraxinus velutina (5%)

Number of Trees Donated by Noble Oak: 30,000

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