05 October 2016

National Public Lands Day Centennial Celebration at Afton Canyon

Written by: Super User

On National Public Lands Day this year (September 24), a group of 22 Latinos from El Nuevo Comienzo took their first trip to Afton Canyon in the new Mojave Trails National Monument.

The group caravanned for about an hour and a half from their homes in Victorville.  They were met by Tanya Henderson of the Amargosa Conservancy who led them on a 7-hour hike through a slot canyon -- a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rock.  She pointed out signs of mountain goats that reside in the area, identified different birds, and talked about the adaptations of the canyon’s plant life.

Locals get really passionate about the desert when they visit as you can see from these words by Jocelyn Giron, 18 years old, who participated in the event:

“For those of us who have the opportunity and take the time to explore the desert, we know it has so much to offer. Seeing different types of birds and plants was amazing! Being able to find evidence of animals that were in the same spot we were in, finding their drinking spot, walking a big horned sheep trail. It wasn't so easy, as you can see in the pictures, going on the sheep trail, but it was sure an adventure!  I, with all honesty, can say this trip to Afton Canyon was an amazing experience. Also, seeing that there is so much life out in the desert, and so much we can do to preserve it.

Afton is so much different and more beautiful than my usual surroundings. Honestly, I find no similarities with the beauty that's out there. It is truly unique.

Visiting this place has given me knowledge about what is really out there and it's nice knowing that there is a specific day (National Public Lands Day - the last Saturday of September!) where we can take the time appreciate God's precious creation, and without a doubt I would definitely do it again! Spending either morning, night, or all day at a place like Afton Canyon, part of America’s public land system, is a spectacular way to spend time in a beautiful place with people you love.”

This hike was just the kick off for 9 events taking place this October and November throughout the desert to encourage local families and residents to explore these special places.  Many groups coordinated in order to host these free events to celebrate the Centennial anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS) in a broad way that encompasses the whole system of parks, forests, monuments, refuges, and public lands in the California desert.

This coming weekend, El Nuevo Comienzo will return to the area with more friends and do some bird counts and tamarisk surveys that will help the Bureau of Land Management plan restoration efforts and establish baseline information about bird populations.

All of the events are described at Opportunities include learning about California Desert history, birding expeditions, overnight hiking and camping trips, stargazing events, and much more.  These celebrations are being organized by the Campaign for the California Desert, a coalition of community leaders, business organizations and conservation groups dedicated to protecting our desert landscapes and celebrating them for their contributions to America’s natural and cultural heritage and regional economy.

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