Help Plant Joshua Trees on Cima Dome!
BackgroundIn August 2020, the Dome Fire burned over 44,000 acres (~70 square miles) of one of the densest and largest Joshua tree forests in the world on Cima Dome. While assessing the damage to the forest, we noticed some areas with fairly low to moderate burn intensity with pockets of unburned islands. However, the burn intensity throughout most of the fire was catastrophic and nearly all aboveground vegetation was scorched and would not survive. We estimated that over a million trees were burned in the fire.
Cima Dome is modelled to be a climate refugia for the species. However, Joshua trees have poor seed dispersal and may only migrate about 100 feet for every 20 years. So the Mojave National Preserve is taking steps to ensure there are trees, and more specially a seed source, within the badly affected areas of the burn so they may reestablished naturally before the effects of climate change impact the recruitment and sustainability of the population on Cima Dome.
Volunteers are recommended to have:
On the day of your arrival, you will check in with NPS staff at Valley View Ranch. We will get you signed up as a volunteer, go over a few basic safety items, orient you to basecamp, and answer any of your questions.
We will begin each day at 8 am with a tailgate safety meeting. There will be a brief talk on the history of the Dome Fire and last year’s planting, then volunteers will be grouped, given supplies, and planting locations. Groups will head out together towards their planting sites. This usually involves a little driving from Valley View. Planting sites will be assigned based on vehicle capabilities and how far of a hike you would like to do.
NPS staff will help gather supplies and make sure each team has everything they need for a day of planting before leaving Valley View Ranch. Planting teams of 5-6 people will travel as a unit to designated planting areas. You will use a free smartphone app called Survey123 to help navigate to the site, record information on the planting, and take photos of the plants. There will be six Joshua trees planted at each planting location. Teams will hike from their parking location with all supplies needed for each planting group. This includes a bucket of Joshua tree seedlings, water, mesh cages, rebar, shovels or trowels, wiring, and ID tags. Most planting sites are within a couple miles of the road; however, there are some sites about 3 miles from the nearest road. Luckily, the terrain is fairly gentle and uniform (3-5% slope on average). The fire cleared out most vegetation, so hiking is mostly unobstructed, but there are shrubs coming back at this point, as well as unburned islands and boulder outcrops in some places.
We will be setting up a basecamp at Valley View Ranch where NPS staff will be camping for the duration of the event. We ask that volunteers do not camp here, as we want to leave the area clear for supply pickup. There are plenty of dispersed campsites on Cima Dome within a few miles of Valley View Ranch, and we can help direct you to the best ones. Be prepared to be self-sufficient. There will be no water available at Valley View Ranch. The closest food options are the Cima Gas Station at the I-15 intersection, and then either Baker or Primm after that (at least a 45-minute drive from Valley View Ranch). There is cell phone service at Valley View and throughout most of Cima Dome; however, there are a few places with little or no coverage, mostly on the west side of the Dome. The Survey123 app works without cell service, as long as Location Services are turned on and you have the correct basemap installed.
Regarding weather, highs should be in the 60’s with lows in the 30-40’s. This is obviously not guaranteed. Please prepare for all weather. Generally, there is not much precipitation in November but bring supplies just in case. We will send out weather updates once the event approaches to make sure everyone is prepared. Fires are allowed at dispersed campsites, but everyone should refrain if it is windy.
There is a gas station at the Cima Rd. and I-15 intersection, but it can be very pricey. It is best to fill up in Barstow or Las Vegas, depending on the direction you are coming from. There is also reasonably priced gas in Searchlight, NV.
The closest hotels are about 45 minutes away in Primm, NV. Rooms are reasonably priced but be aware they might not be up to the same cleanliness standards as major cities like Las Vegas.
This is a suggested packing list. We may have some extras of field work items (like work gloves) but it is not guaranteed.
Field Work Items
Backpack (or gear hauler if you have one!)
Ability to carry water for the day (at least 3 liters)
Closed-toe hiking shoes
Trowel or shovel
Personal First Aid kit
Sleeping bag (be sure to know its temperature rating!)
Hand sanitizer and/or soap
Charging devices with cords for electronics
Last updated: October 25, 2022