Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Prime Desert Woodland Preserve in Lancaster, CA

Theodore Roosevelt said "Do what you can, where you are, with what you have." Excellent advice, and the folks at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve in Lancaster, California are doing just that.
Details of the straw bale construction of the Interpretive Center
This 100 acre preserve is carved out in the middle of housing developments. I would put it on my list of "must see" in a visit to the Antelope Valley. It is extremely easy to get to and wonderfully done.

And, there is a Nebraska connection - below is a photo of their Visitor Center, which is constructed of straw bales - an excellent choice for the heat of the Mojave Desert. Using straw bales as construction material first started in Nebraska in the 1880's.
There are about three miles of trails throughout the Preserve, and they are beautifully laid out. They wind through a varied eco system, including a riparian area complete with whispering Cottonwood trees.
There are interpretive panels throughout the Preserve discussiong the flora and fauna, preservation efforts and the history of the Antelope Valley. The one below highlights a Creosote bush estimated to be 800 years old!
Joshua trees abound in the Preserve. They are kind of like a Yucca on steroids. The resemblance is complete to the flowers and the seed pods.
My visit was in early June, well into the hot dry summer time. Below, you can see the smoke from the 2013 Powerhouse Fire which burned more than 30,000 acres just west of Lancaster. Much of the brush throughout the Preserve was brown and dormant, but I would well imagine it has its green moments.
Lots of wildlife in the preserve too. Birds like the one below and the crow flying in the photo above, and cute little squirrel-like creatures. Kind of like a cross between a squirrel and a prairie dog. Bushy tail, but seemed to make their homes in burrows in the ground. Naturally, they were too speedy for me to get any photos of.
There are lots of benches along the trail. Since I was there at nearly high noon, I only found one that was shaded, so I took advantage of it! As you can see, the trails are wide, flat and hard-surfaced (though not concrete, which is nice). This was my longest walk since crushing my heel nearly a year ago. According to the Preserve docent, I made it about 2 miles. It is an easy walk, and I would recommend it to anyone. There are a lot of little loops that are shorter.

As you can see, the Joshua Trees are wonderful. There are also a lot of Junipers on one section of the Preserve which makes a great combination. I applaud the foresight of the founders of the Preserve for carving out this little natural niche within the neighborhoods of their city.



It looked to me like the Preserve is well utilized by locals running and walking the trails, but it is great for visitors too.
Of course, it always makes me wonder what other small towns could do with what they have to make life better for their residents and to attract visitors.

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