Joshua Tree and Hi-Desert Medical Center Celebrate America's Best Idea

Release Date: October 23, 2013
Contact: Jennie Kish Albrinck, 760-367-5520

The National Park Service has been called America's Best Idea. In anticipation of the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016, a plan was created to offer an opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate this ideal as we prepare for a new century of stewardship. This "Call to Action" plan promotes outreach in local communities and encourages the creation of partnership programs throughout the country.

Take a Hike, Call Me in the Morning: In the spirit of the plan, a collaboration between Joshua Tree National Park and Hi-Desert Medical Center was formed to facilitate community wellness workshops and education programs, and promote healthier lifestyles in the Morongo Basin.

On Saturday, October 26, Joshua Tree National Park will host a special "Ranger/Doctor" hike led by Todd Sallenbach, MD, emergency department physician at Hi-Desert Medical Center and Ranger Pam Tripp around the Oasis of Mara. Those wishing to participate should meet at the Oasis Visitor Center at 74485 National Park Drive in Twentynine Palms at 9 am. The park entrance fee will be waived on October 26 for those participating in the "Ranger/Doctor" hike.

Recreation in any form improves physical and mental health. Benefits from increased physical activity include increased energy and stamina; reduced stress levels, tension, and depression; improved blood pressure and cardiovascular function, and body-weight management. Joshua Tree has more than 270 miles of trails that range from short, flat, and paved to strenuous and steep, providing a seemingly endless variety of exercise opportunities.

Building a team of citizen scientists: The National Park Foundation awarded Joshua Tree a grant to build a program that partners with local communities to encourage regular hikers to become data gatherers for climate change monitoring projects. Three trails with different levels of difficulty have been designated where hikers can collect vegetation data to assist with climate change research. Park staff have tagged plants along these trails to monitor how they respond to environmental cues throughout the seasons. Hikers who wish to participate in gathering data sign up as official park volunteers (VIPs) and receive complimentary access to the park for this study. To become a VIP hiker and assist with data collection, or for more information about this guided hike, please contact Josh Hoines at 760-367-5564 or send an email to

Come celebrate this merging of healthy activity with citizen science in national parks. Sign up as a volunteer, get outdoors and take a walk, and enjoy your local public lands.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597


(760) 367-5500

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