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Mojave National

preserve Conservancy
Newsle! er

Welcome, Superintendent Todd Suess!
The  Mojave  National  Preserve  Conservancy  (MNPC)  
welcomes  Superintendent  Todd  Suess.    Todd  arrived  
in  February  2015  and  replaces  Stephanie  Dubois  in  
the  role  of  protecting  this  wonderful  landscape  for  
all  to  enjoy,  and  leading  a  dedicated  National  Park  
Service  (NPS)  staff.    Todd  is  a  committed  public  
servant,  having  spent  four  years  with  the  Bureau  of  
Land  Management  and  21  years  (and  counting)  with  
the  NPS    We  asked  him  a  few  questions  about  his  
career  and  his  thoughts  on  the  Preserve.
MNPC:  What  brought  you  to  the  NPS?  
Todd:

My  childhood  and  the  experiences  that  my  parents  
provided  for  me  is  what  brought  me  to  the  NPS  as  a  
career.    I  grew  up  in  the  city  environment  of  
Minneapolis;  my  parents  grew  up  on  farms  and  
moved  to  Minneapolis  for  work.    As  a  young  child,  I  
spent  many  hours  roaming  around  my  
Grandparents'  farm  observing  and  interacting  one  
on  one  with  the  natural  environment.  Fortunate  for  
me,  my  Dad  worked  in  a  factory  that  shut  down  for  
two  weeks  in  the  summer  each  year  which  meant  
packing  up  the  car  and  heading  to  National  Parks.    I  
grew  up  hiking  in  the  Rocky  Mountains,  wandering  
through  the  cultural  sites  varying  from  Anasazi  
dwellings  in  the  Southwest  to  battleZields  in  the  east  
and  spending  many  hours  picnicking  alongside  
rivers,  streams  and  lakes.    I  connected  with  the  
natural  and  cultural  treasures  of  the  National  Park  
System  at  a  young  age  and  was  drawn  in  by  the  
stories  I  heard  at  interpretive  programs.  I  was  
hooked.
(Continued,  page  2,  Interview)

Spring 2015

About the Conservancy
Our  Mission  is  to  preserve,  protect,  and  promote  the  
unique  natural  beauty,  ecological  integrity,  and  rich  
cultural  history  of  the  Mojave  National  Preserve,  and  
to  build  a  community  dedicated  to  the  enduring  
stewardship  of  the  Preserve.
 

About the Preserve

Established  by  Congress  in  1994,  the  Preserve  
encompasses  1.6  million  acres  of  mountains,  jumble  
rocks,  sand  dunes,  desert  washes,  and  dry  lakes.    The  
Preserve  offers  many  opportunities  for  solitude  and  
adventure,  and  protects  a  diverse  array  of  plant  and  
animal  life.

Fun Fact: There  are  over  830  different  species  of  
native  plants  found  in  the  Mojave  National  Preserve.

The cotton-top cactus (Echinocactus polycephalus). It
gets its name from the dense, woolly bloom that can
form at the top of the barrel.

(Continued) Interview  with  Superintendent  Todd  
Suess
MNPC:  What  was  the  most  inspiring  experience  you  
have  had  in  your  career?    Most  frightening?

These  come  in  many  forms  and  all  take  a  toll  on  the  
mission  of  the  National  Park  Service.  

I  see  it  as  my  job  to  help  lead  park  staff,  partners  and  
visitors  through  these  tough  times  we  are  currently  
Todd:
in  to  a  place  where  we  are  all  working  together  to  
There  have  been  so  many  inspiring  times  in  my  
help  preserve  these  amazing  and  specials  places  of  
career  so  far,  it  is  so  hard  to  pick  just  one,  however  I   the  National  Park  System  for  the  future  generations.    
do  feel  that  these  times  do  have  a  common  thread,  
the  connection  that  people  have  or  make  to  a  certain   MNPC:  What  does  it  mean  to  you  to  "get  the  desert"?
park  or  area  of  a  park.    My  career  has  taken  me  to  10  
Todd:  
national  park  sites  and  I  can  think  of  a  time  in  each  
area  that  has  given  me  that  hair  raising  goosebump   To  “get  the  desert”  to  me  means  that  somebody  has  
experience,  the  type  that  sets  a  Zire  deep  in  you  and   gone  beyond  the  misperception  that  deserts  are  hot  
changes  who  you  are  or  how  you  look  at  things.    One   and  dry  wastelands  to  comprehend  the  diverse,  
memory  that  comes  to  mind  is  walking  around  
dynamic,  ecosystem  that  the  desert  is.    Just  recently  
Devils  Tower  with  a  Native  American  gentleman  and   my  wife  posted  a  picture  on  facebook  that  I  took  of  
listening  to  his  stories  about  what  the  tower  meant   her  when  we  were  out  exploring  the  local  desert.    It  
to  him  and  his  people.    I  found  myself  
was  a  landscape  scale  picture  that  showed  
transformed  back  centuries  from  that  
the  vastness  of  this  area  as  she  was  merely  
moment  in  time  and  living  in  those  times  
a  speck  taking  in  the  warmth  and  strength  
through  the  stories  he  was  telling  me  and  
of  the  sun,  like  a  lizard,  resting  on  a  large  
feeling  the  change  in  my  heart  on  what  that  
boulder.    The  comments  that  were  
area  meant  to  many  in  the  past  and  present.  
attached  to  this  picture  by  others  ranged  
from  those  that  “get  the  desert”  to  those  
I  recall  walking  in  the  Sonoran  Desert  
that  did  not.    Those  that  understood  this  
outside  Yuma,  Arizona  with  the  BLM  area  
environment  commented  about  the  
archeologist,  we  were  looking  at  rock  art  
extreme  beauty  that  there  was  to  behold  
and  the  desert  trails  that  were  used  
centuries  ago,  as  he  told  the  stories  of  the  art   Superintendent Todd Suess in  the  openness  and  expanse  of  nature  and  
marveled  at  the  smallness  one  felt  at  the  
and  how  the  trails  were  used  I  again  felt  a  
size  of  my  wife  compared  to  the  valley  and  mountain  
change  in  me  and  knew  that  I  would  always  hold  
range  beyond  it.    They  understood  that  the  space  
that  feeling  in  my  soul.    The  natural  environment  
also  can  do  this  to  a  person.    I  feel  the  key  is  to  take   they  saw  was  home  to  many  animals  and  plants  that  
the  time  in  life  to  take  in  the  sense  of  place  that  you   together  made  up  something  greater  than  a  
Zind  yourself  at.    That  could  be  looking  up  to  the  sky   wasteland  and  that  it  was  an  essential  part  of  the  
whole,  that  is  earth.    Those  that  did  not  “get  the  
in  a  forest  of  old  growth  trees  in  the  PaciZic  
desert”  made  comments  in  line  with  merely  
Northwest  or  the  Appalachian  mountains  and  
feeling  the  history  of  the  area  through  the  years  that   temperature.    For  instance,  “wouldn’t  want  to  be  
there  in  a  few  weeks  when  you  can’t  even  go  outside”  
these  trees  represent,  or  becoming  lost  in  the  
or  the  ever  common  “still  can’t  understand  why  
transition  of  the  desert  sky  from  full  daylight  to  
anyone  would  want  to  live  in  the  desert."  
sunset  to  a  full  heaven  of  stars.    That  is  the  
inspiration  of  the  natural  and  cultural  resources  of  
the  world  we  live  in  and  that  are  preserved  within  
our  National  Park  System.

The  most  frightening  moment  in  my  career  is  now.    
There  are  so  many  pressures  on  National  Park  
Service  sites  from  multiple  sources.

To  “get  the  desert”  is  to  understand  and  appreciate  
what  the  desert  holds  to  the  point  that  you  are  awed  
by,  and  emotionally  moved  by  the  sights,  sounds  and  
feelings  you  draw  from  your  experiences  in  the  
desert  environment.    
I  “get  the  desert”.    (Continued,  page  8,  Interview)

Have Seeds Will Travel: How the Fate
of the Joshua Tree Lies With Rodents
By  Paula  Jacoby-­Garrett

The  iconic  Joshua  tree  is  an  important  and  special  
tree  to  the  Mojave  Desert.  They  are  truly  ancient,  
with  an  average  lifespan  of  150  years  and  heights  
upwards  of  30  feet.  Larger  trees  have  been  recorded  
up  to  60  feet  in  height  with  ages  estimated  up  to  
1000  years  old.  Although  the  term  Joshua  tree  forest  
is  often  used  in  areas  with  high  densities,  it  is  hardly  
a  ‘forest’  in  the  traditional  sense  of  the  word.  Their  
elegant  and  distinctive  silhouettes  line  the  skyline  
across  our  vast  Mojave  National  Preserve  and  are  a  
favorite  addition  to  many  sunset  photos.
The  Joshua  tree  occurs  only  in  the  Mojave  Desert  
and  was  named  by  Mormon  settlers  to  the  area  that  
believed  the  tree  looked  like  the  biblical  prophet  
Joshua  with  arms  raised  to  the  heavens  in  prayer.  It  
is  more  closely  related  to  grasses  than  trees  and  
growth  is  very  slow  –  about  ½  inch  per  year  
depending  on  conditions.  It  prefers  elevations  from  
4,000-­‐5,000  feet  and  the  associated  cooler  
temperatures  and  more  abundant  rainfall.  In  the  
spring,  the  tree  produces  large  white,  fragrant  
Zlowers  that  are  pollinated  by  the  yucca  moth.  The  
moth  caterpillars  can  lay  dormant  for  several  years  
until  conditions  are  ideal  for  emergence.    Seeds  are  
produced  after  pollination  and  are  carried  in  a  large  
seedpod,  roughly  the  size  of  a  walnut.  These  pods  
can  hold  upward  of  Zifty  seeds.  Historically,  the  
seeds  were  dispersed  by  a  giant,  now-­‐extinct  sloth.
Joshua  trees  are  an  old  species  –  dating  back  two  
million  years.  During  that  time,  the  climate  was  
cooler  and  moister.  Giant  ground  sloths  dispersed  
the  seeds  by  eating  them  then  depositing  them  in  
dung.  A  large  animal,  the  sloth  was  capable  of  
traveling  distances  of  10  miles  or  more  before  
leaving  a  dung  ‘deposit’.  This  plant/animal  
relationship  provided  food  for  the  sloth  and  a  
mechanism  of  dispersal  over  large  areas  for  the  
Joshua  tree.  Fast-­‐forward  to  about  13,000  years  ago  
and  the  warming  climate  forced  the  giant  sloth  into  
extinction.  
Presently,  the  Joshua  tree  relies  on  a  much  smaller  
dispersal  mechanism  –  rodents.  The  small  antelope  
squirrel  will  climb  the  Joshua  tree  collecting  seeds  
while  other  rodents  such  as  the  kangaroo  rat  will  
collect  fallen  seeds  from  the  ground.  

A  visitor  photographs  one  of  the  many  Joshua  trees  along  the  
Teutonia  Peak  hiking  trail  in  the  Mojave  National  Preserve.  
Photo  by  Shaun  Gonzales

These  species  ‘cache’  or  hide  food  in  the  area,  thereby  
planting  the  seeds.  The  problem  is,  dispersal  by  
rodent  has  a  much  more  limited  range  than  dispersal  
by  sloth  because  rodents  do  not  travel  far.    
In  Kenneth  Cole’s  (et.  al.)  2011  paper  in  Ecological  
Applications,  the  authors  suggest  that  “managed  
relocation,  also  known  as  assisted  migration”  could  
be  a  potential  but  controversial  method  for  future  
relocation  -­‐  meaning  humans  might  need  to  help  with  
the  Joshua  tree’s  survival  as  climate  change  increases  
area  temperatures  and  decreases  rainfall.  We  may  
want  to  take  the  place  of  the  sloth  and  the  rodents  
and  plant  the  Joshua  tree  in  suitable  habitats.  So  as  
the  fate  of  the  iconic  Joshua  tree  has  passed  from  
giant  sloth  to  desert  rodent,  it  may  also  need  a  little  
help  of  a  two  legged  variety.
Great  places  to  see  Joshua  trees  in  the  Mojave  National  
Preserve:
-­Teutonia  Peak  trail,  and  around  the  Cima  Dome  area
-­To  the  south  and  east  of  the  New  York  Mountains  via  
the  Cedar  Canyon/Mojave  Road/Lanfair  Road

Featured Hike: Kessler Peak
By  Michael  E.  Gordon

Kessler  Peak  is  an  isolated  6,163  foot  summit  in  the  
southern  Ivanpah  Mountains.  From  its  summit,  one  
has  a  commanding  view  of  the  Ivanpah  Mountains,  
Teutonia  Peak,  New  York  Mountains,  Providence  
Mountains,  Clark  Mountain  and  numerous  other  
basins  and  ranges  of  the  northern  Mojave  Desert.  
There  are  a  few  ways  to  the  top;  this  author  has  
chosen  to  illustrate  the  fastest  and  most  direct  line  
of  ascent.  There  are  no  trails,  no  cairns,  and  no  
footprints  to  follow.  As  with  most  desert  peaks,  this  
is  a  steep,  trail-­‐less,  quick,  and  highly  rewarding  
ascent.  Via  this  route,  anticipate  approximately  
1,200'  gain  and  loss  in  elevation  
over  3  to  5  miles  of  travel.  
 
Getting  there:  from  the    stop  sign  
at  Cima,  drive  Cima  Road  
northbound  toward  Interstate-­‐15  
for  5.8  miles  and  watch  carefully  
for  the  dirt  road  (the  unsigned  
Kessler  Peak  Road)  on  your  right  
just  before  Cima  Road  angles  
toward  the  left.  If  you're  coming  
southbound  from  I-­‐15,  this  road  
will  be  on  your  left  (east)  about  
0.6  miles  past  the  signed  Teutonia  
Peak  trailhead.  On  Kessler  Peak  
Road,  continue  one  mile  north  to  
a  junction  on  your  right  (east).  
Turn  right  here  and  continue  0.3  
miles  to  another  junction.  Park  
here  or  somewhere  nearby  (do  
not  obstruct  the  main  road).  
To  return  to  your  car,  retrace  your  steps  or  take  
guidebook  author  Michel  Digonnet's  advice  (“Hiking  
the  Mojave  Desert”)  to  walk  the  summit  ridge  
northeast  through  Joshua  trees,  junipers,  grasses,  
and  Ivanpah  Granite  outcrops  toward  the  New  York  
Mountains  viewpoint  access  road  found  in  the  deep  
notch  on  the  north  side  of  Kessler.  Follow  this  road  
westbound  back  to  your  car  about  1.5  miles  away.  
Disclaimer:    The  Preserve  offers  countless  
opportunities  for  hiking  and  exploration.    Not  all  
trails  are  developed  or  well-­‐signed.    The  Mojave  
National  Preserve  Conservancy  declines  all  
responsibility  for  any  emotional  or  physical  injuries  

sustained  during  this  outing.  Hikers  should  be  
experienced,  in  good  health  and  Zitness,  and  should  
carry  a  map  and  compass  along  with  knowledge  and  
experience  in  their  use.  

For  further  information:  
“Hiking  the  Mojave  Desert”  (2013);  Michel  Digonnet  
(sold  at  Kelso  Depot  visitor  center)
USGS  7.5"  "Cima  Dome"  topographical  map
National  Geographic  Mojave  National  Preserve  map  
(sold  at  Kelso  Depot  visitor  center)

Renewable Energy and the Preserve
By  Shaun  Gonzales

The  Conservancy  has  taken  an  active  role  in  
advocating  for  a  greater  focus  on  sustainability  in  
the  development  of  renewable  energy.        Industrial-­‐
scale  renewable  energy  projects  can  harm  the  
wildlife  and  treasured  landscapes  we  seek  to  spare  
from  the  effects  of  climate  change  if  not  sited  
properly.    A  more  sustainable  and  wildlife-­‐friendly  
response  to  climate  change  emphasizes  energy  
efZiciency,    distributed  generation  (such  as  rooftop  
solar),  and  larger  projects  on  already-­‐disturbed  
lands  closer  to  the  cities  where  that  energy  is  
consumed.    
The  Conservancy  has  submitted  comments  to  
Federal  and  State  agencies  responsible  for  
evaluating  renewable  energy  policies  to  highlight  
the  many  qualities  of  the  desert  that  are  at  stake.    
Companies  have  proposed    multiple  large  solar  and  
wind  projects  just  beyond  the  boundaries  of  the  
Preserve,  some  of  which  are  now  operational  or  
under  construction  in  the  Ivanpah  Valley.      The  
Conservancy    continues  to  monitor  the  following  
proposals:
Soda  Mountain  Solar
The  Soda  Mountain  solar  project  would  destroy  as  
much  as  four  square  miles  of  desert  wildlands  west  
and  northwest  of  Zyzzx.    If  built,  the  solar  project  
would  eliminate  one  of  the  only  opportunities  to  
restore  habitat  connectivity  for  desert  bighorn  
sheep  across  Interstate-­‐15.      The  construction  of  
highways  across  the  desert  has  resulted  in  a  decline  
in  genetic  diversity  among  bighorn  sheep  because  
sheep  populations  become  isolated  and  unable  to  
mix,  according  to  biological  studies.    This  loss  of  
genetic  diversity  challenges  the  species'  ability  to  
adapt  to  a  number  of  challenges,  including  those  
caused  by  climate  change.    

Scientists  are  also  concerned  that  the  proposed  solar  
project  might  pump  enough  groundwater  to  cause  
natural  springs  in  the  area  to  go  dry.    The  natural  
springs  provide  critical  water  supply  to  a  range  of  
wildlife,  and  also  provide  habitat  for  the  endangered  
Mohave  tui  chub,  a  rare  Zish  found  in  the  Mojave  
National  Preserve.      

Crescent  Peak  Wind
At  least  one  company  is  considering  building  a  large  
wind  project  immediately  outside  the  northeastern  
boundary  of  the  Preserve  in  Nevada.    The  project  
would  pose  a  threat  to  the  area's  high  concentration  of  
golden  eagles,  as  well  as  other  birds  and  bats.    The  
sprawling  project  would  also  carve  new  access  roads  
through  desert  tortoise  habitat,  and  install  turbines  
standing  over  300  feet  high  along  ridges  overlooking  
the  Preserve.    Many  visitors  to  the  Preserve  enjoy  an  
escape  from  cities,  where  human  structures  dominate  
the  landscape.    Large  industrial-­‐scale  projects  on  the  
horizon  would  impede  the  primitive,  unconZined  
experience  that  the  Preserve  offers  to  visitors.
Silurian  Valley  
Iberdrola  has  proposed  building  a  wind  and  solar  
project  in  this  valley  north  of  the  Mojave  National  
Preserve.    The  U.S.  Fish  and  Wildlife  Service  has  
identiZied  a  critical  desert  tortoise  habitat  corridor  
through  the  Silurian  Valley.    A  segment  of  the  Old  
Spanish  Trail  -­‐  a  National  Historic  Trail  once  used  by  
Native  Americans,  Spanish  explorers,  settlers  and  
traders  -­‐  also  crosses  through  the  valley.    The  
relatively  undisturbed  nature  of  the  Silurian  Valley  
provides  a  rare  opportunity  for  visitors  to  experience  
the  area  as  it  was  seen  by  earlier  generations.      
Historic  travelers  along  the  Old  Spanis  Trail  relied  
upon  natural  springs  just  north  of  the  Silurian  Valley  
near  Salt  Creek  for  water,  and  also  at    Soda  Springs  
near  modern-­‐day  Zyzzx  Road  in  the  Preserve.  

Better  Alternatives
We  can  minimize  the  threat  to  wildlands  during  our  
Biologists  assess  that  building  wildlife  overpasses  
transition  to  clean  energy.    A  study  published  by  
or  wider  culverts  might  reverse  this  genetic  decline   Nature  found  that  California  has  enough  potential  
because  sheep  would  then  be  able  to  safely  cross  
within  the  "built  environment"  to  meet  its  solar  
over  or  under  the  highway,  and  have  identiZied  the  
energy  needs.      A  separate  study  by  McKinsey  and  
Soda  Mountain  area  as  a  key  location  for  a  potential   Company  identiZied  enough  non-­‐transportation  
crossing.    If  the  Soda  Mountain  Solar  project  is  built,   energy  efZiciency  gains  to  reduce  U.S.  energy  
it  could  block  a  potential  crossing  since  sheep  may  
consumption  by  23%.    With  the  right  policies,  we  can  
keep  their  distance  from  industrial  development.  
steer  investment  toward  these  sustainable  objectives  
and  protect  our  wildlands.

The  Soda  Mountains  in  the  distance  host  a  healthy  population  of  bighorn  sheep.    Barely  visible  is  Interstate-­15.    
Biologists  hope  that  a  wildlife  overpass  built  across  the  highway  could  connect  isolated  populations  of  bighorn  
sheep  in  the  Mojave  National  Preserve  with  populations  further  north,  giving  the  species  a  greater  chance  of  
surviving  climate  change.    Becthel's  plans  to  build  a  solar  project  here  could  disrupt  any  chance  for  improving  
sheep  habitat  connectivity.    Photo  by  Michael  E.  Gordon.

Natural Treasures at Risk

Desert  bighorn  sheep  in  the  Soda  Mountains,  Mojave  
National  Preserve.    Sheep  in  the  Preserve  have  
experienced  a  decline  in  genetic  diversity  because  they  
are  unable  to  frequently  cross  Interstate-­15  and  
Interstate-­40.    Wildlife  overpasses  could  help.      
Photo  by  Shaun  Gonzales

The  natural  springs  in  the  Mojave  National  Preserve  provide  
habitat  for  the  endangered  Mohave  tui  chub,  and  water  for  
other  desert  wildlife.    Groundwater  pumping  for  industrial-­
scale  energy  projects  could  jeopardize  this  critical  ecosytem.
Photo  by  Shaun  Gonzales

Arachnids in the Mojave
By  Lucas  Basulto

You  encounter  them  at  the  least  opportune  times.  
When  you  are  hiking  on  your  favorite  trail  in  the  
Preserve.  When  you  are  settling  in  to  your  tent  at  
night  after  a  long  day  exploring.    When  you  are  
putting  on  your  boots  the  next  morning.  They  are  
there,  they  creep  you  out.  But  they  really  shouldn’t!

crossing  a  road  on  your  drive  through  the  Preserve,  
you’ll  know  it’s  a  male  by  the  tibial  “hooks”  on  his  
front  legs,  appreciate  the  fact  that  he  could  have  been  
born  two  or  more  presidencies  ago!  He  could  have  
seen  the  turn  of  the  century.  If  you  are  fortunate  
enough  to  Zind  a  female  on  a  hike  or  while  camping,  
know  that  she  could  have  been  born  in  the  1980s!  

We  love  our  desert  bighorn  sheep  and  tortoises;  they  
make  our  desert  all  the  more  attractive,  they  are  
When  one  hears  the  term  “creepy-­‐crawly”  most  
icons.  Tarantulas  may  not  be  as  nice  to  look  at,  but  
people’s  minds  jump  immediately  to  Arachnids  
they  are  an  icon  of  the  west,  and  of  the  Mojave  all  the  
(Spiders  and  Scorpions  mainly).    Needless  to  say  this   same.  They  deserve  equal  amounts  of  respect  and  
family  of  invertebrates  is  the  most  renowned  for  
consideration  when  encountered  during  your  visit.  
giving  people  the  “Heebie-­‐jeebies”.  These  are  the  
The  Mojave’s  insect  life  is  tough  to  love,  but  if  you  
invertebrates  that  you  will  encounter  most  often  in   take  the  time  to  look  a  little  closer  at  them  you  will  
the  Mojave  National  Preserve.  Members  of  this  
Zind  that  they  are  quite  fascinating.  
group  may  be  some  of  the  creepiest  of  our  desert’s  
fauna,  but  they  are  also  
 
some  of  the  most  
fascinating!  
Tarantulas  in  our  Mojave  
Desert  of  the  genus  
Aphonopelma  are  some  
of  the  most  well  adapted  
animals  on  the  planet.  
They  live  their  entire  life  
buried  in  the  dry,  sun-­‐
scorched  earth  and  only  
eat  when  the  odd  beetle  
or  wandering  Banded  
Gecko  is  unfortunate  
enough  to  Zind  her  
quarter-­‐sized  hole  in  the  
ground.    Research  has  
shown  that  certain  
species  of  tarantula  
native  to  the  Mojave  
construct  their  burrow's  turret  (opening  to  it’s  
burrow)  in  the  form  of  a  mound  so  that  Zlash  Zlood  
waters  have  less  of  a  chance  of  Zlooding  their  home.  
It  has  also  been  proposed  that  this  mound  has  a  dual  
purpose  in  that  it  will  also  deter  scorpions  from  
entering.  
The  tarantulas  here  are  also  a  very  long-­‐lived  
species.  Because  food  is  so  scarce  in  our  desert,  the  
tarantula  grows  at  a  supremely  slow  rate  and  
spiderlings  can  take  upwards  to  30+  years  to  reach  
maturity  if  they  are  female,  and  15+  if  they  are  male.  
So  the  next  time  you  see  a  wandering  male  tarantula  

A  tarantula  on  a  dry  lake  bed  in  the  Mojave  
Desert.    Every  species  in  the  desert  plays  a  role  
in  a  vast  and  complex  ecosystem.
Photo  by  Michael  E.  Gordon.

Interview,  continued  from  page  2
MNPC:  As  the  new  Superintendent  of  the  
incomparable  Mojave  National  Preserve,  what  
are  your  short  term  goals?  

place  that  encapsulates  the  sights,  sounds,  and  
feelings  of  the  Preserve  so  that  when  they  left  that  
place  it  would  be  forever  stuck  in  their  minds  and  
heart  in  a  way  that  they  would  carry  it  with  them  and  
share  the  emotion  with  others.    

I  feel  this  could  be  many  different  areas  and  could  be  
different  for  any  one  person.    It  could  be  in  the  dead  
One  of  my  short  term  goals  as  the  new  
of  winter  experiencing  a  cool  rain  while  hiking  up  the  
Superintendent  of  Mojave  National  Preserve  is  to  
sand  dunes,  or  in  the  spring  when  the  sunlight  hits  
learn.    Learn  about  all  the  amazing  things  that  make  
the  Preserve  the  special  place  that  it  is.    I  would  like   the  cactus  blooms  in  that  way  that  you  have  to  stop  
to  learn  as  much  as  I  can  about  the  Preserve  and  the   the  car  and  take  in  the  beauty  not  worrying  about  
where  you  were  headed  or  when  you  will  get  there.    
desert  so  that  I  can,  in  the  long  term,  become  an  
advocate  for  the  desert.    I  would  like  to  convert  
It  could  be  enjoying  a  picnic  lunch  on  the  side  of  the  
those  that  don’t  “get  the  desert”  to  those  that  do  and   road  marveling  at  the  cinder  cones  and  wondering  
in  doing  so  build  the  number  of  advocates  the  
what  it  was  like  when  this  area  was  formed,  or  in  the  
Preserve  and  the  desert  has.    
depot  reading  about  the  history  of  the  area  and  
I  also  want  to  learn  about  who  makes  up  the  face  of   imagining  yourself  living  in  the  desert  “back  in  the  
the  Preserve,  starting  Zirst  with  the  staff  that  keep  
day”.    It  could  be  camping  out  in  the  summer  with  
the  doors  open,  keep  the  facilities  working  well,  pay   anticipation  for  the  sun  to  go  down,  for  cooler  
the  bills  and  do  other  needed  administrative  duties,   temperatures  and  the  transformation  of  the  desert  
protect  the  resources  and  our  visitors  and  tell  the  
sky  from  blazing  blue  to  brilliant  starlight.    Most  
stories.    Then  meet  and  learn  about  our  park  
likely  that  place  that  I  would  show  somebody  is  the  
friends  ,  and  meet  our  new  park's  friends  of  the  
place  that  I  am  not  yet  familiar  with  and  that  shows  
future.    
itself  unexpectedly.    I  will  know  that  I  am  in  that  place  
Another  goal  is  to  start  to  understand  where  the  
when  the  person  or  people  with  me  let  out  that  
Preserve  is  in  its  20+  year  new  park  site  evolution.     audible  exclamation  that  they  just  got  what  the  
Where  have  we  come  from  and  where  do  we  need  to  
desert  is  about.
go.    Much  good  work  has  been  put  into  getting  us  to  
this  point.  I  would  like  to  build  on  this  effort  and  
MNPC:  You  get  the  Ginal  word:  What  do  you  want  
take  us  farther  down  the  road.    What  is  it  that  the  
to  share  with  Conservancy  members?  
Preserve  needs  to  be  in  10  years  from  now  to  serve  
the  visitor  and  protect  the  resources.    How  can  we  
Todd:  
get  there  in  the  conditions  that  we  are  working  
under  now  and  how  do  we  structure  the  staff  to  get   I  would  like  to  share  two  words  with  conservancy  
us  there  are  two  important  question  to  start  looking   members.    Thank  you.    Thank  you  for  being  partners  
into.
with  us  and  for  working  alongside  the  National  Park  
The  last  of  the  short  term  goals  that  I  will  mention  is   Service  in  helping  us  fulZill  our  mission  and  in  turn  
to  have  fun  with  my  new  position  and  share  with  
you  fulZill  your  mission  to  protect,  preserve  and  enjoy  
others  the  passion  that  I  have  for  carrying  out  the  
the  resources  of  the  desert  while  being  good  
mission  of  the  National  Park  Service.
stewards  to  the  land.    Thank  you  for  taking  up  the  
causes  that  need  attention  and  being  the  advocates  
MNPC:  If  you  could  show  someone  one  place  in  
the  Preserve,  where  would  it  be?
and  promoters  that  we  need.    Thank  you  for  helping  
to  educate  those  that  don’t  “get  the  desert”    Thank  
Todd:  
you  for  being  there  to  pick  up  a  tool  and  help  mend  
I  have  not  yet  been  to  many  areas  of  the  Preserve,  
something  or  pick  up  trash  to  restore  an  area,  we  can  
but  what  I  would  show  someone  would  not  be  
always  use  that  extra  hand  and  a  friend.
speciZic  to  any  one  place.    Instead,  it  would  be  a  
Todd:

MOJAVE  NATIONAL  PRESERVE  CONSERVANCY  
400  S.  2nd  Avenue  #213
Barstow,  CA  92311
 WWW.PRESERVETHEMOJAVE.ORG  
760-­‐957-­‐7887

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