Overview of the Mojave
The Mojave Desert encompasses large tracts of publicly owned lands. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National
Park Service, and the Department of Defense manage most of these lands. But because
do not recognize such
boundaries, federal land managers work in cooperation with one another, local governments, and private landowners.
Rapid urban expansion--coupled with scarce water resources--creates special management challenges for the entire
region. Increased human use of the desert is the direct cause of the majority of resource issues. Livestock grazing,
utility corridors, military training, and recreational activities all impact fragile native
In addition, pressure is mounting as cities and counties grow up to adjacent public land boundaries with no room to
expand. In some cases, federal lands near cities are being sold or exchanged for more environmentally sensitive
lands further from urban areas. For example, Congress is considering legislation that would sell public lands to
Clark County, Nevada, for construction of a new airport to serve Las Vegas. The money from this sale could be used
to buy environmentally important land elsewhere.
While some see the desert as a barren landscape suitable for garbage dumping, many citizens understand the beauty
and fragility of the landscape and seek to restore it. A recent volunteer cleanup of public lands near
for example, attracted more than 500 people from nearby communities, who collected 5.5 metric tons of trash, including
discarded cars and washing machines.
The Mojave Desert attracts millions of tourists each year to such sites as
Joshua Tree National Park, the
Mojave National Preserve,
and the millions of acres of public lands containing canyons,
sand dunes, and
managed by the BLM. Therefore, managers not only must protect the fragile desert
but they also must plan to accommodate an increasing variety of uses and demands for desert lands.
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Rainbow Basin near Barstow is barren but beautiful