We must protect our biodiversity, scenic beauty, outdoor recreation, and our community's sense of place or we risk losing these resources forever.
Beyond land acquisition, our conservation programs ensure the sustainable existence, use, and enjoyment of our natural and cultural heritage for current generations and those to come.
The Coachella Valley is home to over 500 miles of world-class hiking trails, from strolls through native fan palm oases to a 10,000 foot ascent of Mount San Jacinto along one of the steepest slopes in North America. These trails see use from thousands of hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers, and others every year, a number which is ever increasing.
Friends works to protect these trails for the use and safety of residents and visitors to the Coachella Valley, as well as to minimize impacts on the fragile environment that surrounds them. Our efforts include trail construction and maintenance, trash removal, sign placement and repair, and trail safety and etiquette outreach.
Invasive Weed Control
Our desert is home to habitats and species found nowhere else on earth. Even though they may be protected on paper, they need protection from threats on the ground, like invasive species. Invasive species are a leading cause of extinction worldwide, second only to habitat destruction.
Friends works to control and remove invasive weed species that threaten critical riparian and sand dune habitats, including Saharan mustard, fountain grass, and tamarisk. These species consume already scarce water and nutrients, create fire hazards, and crowd out native plants and animals.
Environmental conservation is not just about protecting our precious natural and cultural resources today, it's about stewarding those resources into the future. We are always at risk of losing these resources to ignorance and apathy.
Friends works to connect the leaders of tomorrow with their desert home today by providing outdoor experiences, exposure to desert creatures, and science education. We aim to instill a conservation ethic and provide tools for environmental preservation to students at all levels, from preschool to university and beyond.
One of the first modern champions of desert conservation, Randall Henderson, wrote about two deserts. One desert is "grim desolate wasteland", and exists only in the imagination of those who have never seen it for themselves, or who speed by it on the highway.
The other desert, the Real Desert, is hidden to "superficial observers". Friends offers interpretive hikes throughout our desert and surrounding mountains to introduce people to the Real Desert so that we can all appreciate it's beauty, fragility, and complexity.
In order to make informed and effective decisions as land managers, stewards, and educators, we support scientific research in the Coachella Valley at both professional and amateur levels.
Friends has provided volunteer and financial support to research into wildlife corridors, soil ecology, the roosting habits of our endemic yellow bat, and the effects of climate on two local pinyon pine species. We also support citizen science projects through the iNaturalist platform, allowing trained and untrained researchers to collaborate on research into invasive species and reptile distribution.