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  • Sunset at Mojave Desert in Twentynine Palms, CA

Stretch your legs and enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Cottonwood Mountains with Ted Reeves, in this all-day field class. Reeves will discuss the geologic history of Joshua Tree National Park, and the rocks and plants of the Cottonwood Mountains. We will also discuss some human history of the Cottonwood Spring area during the late 1800s. Participants will walk six miles through the rolling hills of the Colorado Desert to see mills, mines, and more. Along the trail, Reeves will share the adaptations of plants and animals to the desert environment. A portion of the walk will follow a prominent freight road built in the 1880s. Attendees will learn what is known about the road’s creation and use. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn how geology is connected to cultural history at Cottonwood Spring!

Register today!

The desert floor may look like dirt and sand but it is full of living small and microscopic organisms vital to the park’s ecosystem. Many of these organisms live in biological highly active soil crusts that cover the first inch of the desert soil surface. In this field class Nat Pombububpa, Julia Adam, and Tania Kurbessoian will introduce crypto-biotic soil crusts with an emphasis on fungi, soil algae, and lichens. Participants will study the secret life of these microscopic organisms as they demystify this thin layer of soil. This class will discuss the components of crusts such as cyanobacteria (one of the oldest known life forms on earth), green algae, diatoms, bacteria, fungi, and lichens. During the lab session, participants will see the biodiversity of the park’s crusts up close through two different types of microscopes. On the second day, the class will go into the field to identify and assess the condition of several types of algal and lichen soil crust communities found in Joshua Tree National Park.

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California is a state defined by plate tectonics, motion, continental drift, and subduction zones. Join geologist Ted Reeves as he explains the origin and effects of the San Andres Fault system. Reeves will unfold the geologic story of the Indio Hills, the Mecca Hills and SaltonTrough in this all-day field class. Participants will meet at the Coachella Valley Preserve and walk a short distance to see fault features. We will then travel to Box Canyon and Painted Canyon and observe spectacular faults and folds where the Pacific plate is forcing up the Mecca Hills. Reeves will illuminate fault-related features in the field with special emphasis on physical deformations of the landscape. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to explore the San Andreas fault zone and the palm oases!

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Investigate the natural architecture and origin of Joshua Tree National Park’s landscape with Tor Lacy, geology professor, Cerritos college. Starting in the classroom participants will be introduced to basic geologic principles including major rock groups, plate tectonics, mountain building, and the impact of weathering and erosion. Tor will discuss how these processes worked together to form the fantastic desert landscape of the park. The class will venture into the field on two excursions to observe and identify monzogranite, gneiss, veins, and basaltic rocks as well as inselbergs, alluvial fans, and pediments. For those new to geology or experienced geologists, Tor will make learning about the complex and unique landscape of Joshua Tree National Park comprehensible and fun.

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Did you know that insects can survive in temperatures over 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade with little or no water? Kurt Leuschner will explore the lives of the largest group of animals in the world through a study of insect anatomy, survival traits, habitats, and behaviors. Participants will learn to identify and distinguish insects from other arthropods and then practice their skills in the field. Field observations will include desert, dune, and riparian habitats, as well as a special night session with black lights at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. Leuschner will share amazing stories of insects like the yucca moth, the ant lion, and the world they inhabit.

This class is sponsored by the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve.

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Participants will be introduced to the major groups of respectively macroscopic and microscopic invertebrates found in Southern California’s deserts, where and when to find them, and how to observe and identify them with the aid of online tools after taking digital macro photographs in the field (in the case of insects and other animals visible to the naked eye), or with the aid of a compound microscope in the lab (for smaller animals). The first part will include an outline of basic techniques for approaching and photographing different macro subjects with a compact camera or an interchangeable lens/SLR camera. In the second part we will demonstrate simple techniques for isolating microscopic invertebrates from different materials, how to transfer them to microscope slides and how to operate a compound microscope to observe them. Class size is limited, please sign up early!

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Your health and safety is the top priority for our hospitality businesses. In accordance with State/County guidelines we kindly remind you to wear your face mask/covering, practice healthy hand-washing, maintain a safe social distance, and postpone travel if you are sick.

Together, our everyday actions can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.