Search-and-rescue operations at Joshua Tree National Park just got a little bit easier thanks to the donation of a utility vehicle by the non-profit Friends of Joshua Tree to Joshua Tree National Park. The vehicle, a low mileage 2003 Ford F350 pickup truck, comes complete with locking storage compartments for ropes, climbing hardware, and other rescue equipment.
In a brief ceremony on Tuesday, May 31, Friends of Joshua Tree President Kenji Haroutunian presented the keys to the vehicle to Joshua Tree Superintendent Mark Butler. The vehicle will be used by the Joshua Tree National Park Search and Rescue program (JOSAR) to support rock climbing accidents, searches for lost hikers, and other rescue activities.
Joshua Tree National Park embraces nearly 794,000 acres of rugged desert terrain of which 75 percent is designated Wilderness. The park is a world-renowned destination for rock climbers and boulder enthusiasts who test their skills on the wide variety of published climbs and boulder ‘problems.’ Each year the park experiences a number of climbing accidents, missing and overdue hikers, medical emergencies, and other incidents where JOSAR is called to assist. The donated vehicle will be a key asset in the park’s overall preparedness and response to these emergencies.
Friends of Joshua Tree is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the historical tradition of climbing in Joshua Tree National Park. Friends of Joshua Tree advocates, communicates, and encourages ethical and environmentally sound climbing practices, and works to shape park policy on climbing and climbing-related issues. Toward that end, Friends of Joshua Tree acts as a liaison between the climbing community and the National Park Service. Friends of Joshua Tree also donates funds, equipment, and volunteer services to Joshua Tree National Park in support of the park’s rock climbing, bouldering, ecological restoration, and search-and-rescue programs. Representing Friends of Joshua Tree at the donation event were Haroutunian, Mary Ann Kelley, and Tim Richards. Also on hand were Chief Ranger Judy Bartzatt, Lost Horse District Ranger Dan Messaros, and Search-and-Rescue Coordinator Kevin Buckley, as well as members of the park’s volunteer search-and-rescue team.
In accepting the donation on behalf of the National Park Service, Butler thanked the Friends of Joshua Tree for their generosity and support and noted, “It’s increasingly through partnerships with organizations like the Friends of Joshua Tree that national parks are able to improve their services and capabilities on behalf of the visiting public. We are very happy to receive this donation of a utility vehicle that will be invaluable to our JOSAR operations. This gift builds on Friends of Joshua Tree’s long record of support at Joshua Tree National Park. The park is grateful for their efforts.”
For more information about the Friends of Joshua Tree, visit their website: www.friendsofjosh.org/. To learn more about the Joshua Tree National Park Search and Rescue Team, contact Park Ranger Kevin Buckley at 760-362-2749.