The reason for this set of flights in Southern California was to give elected officials and others involved in conservation an aerial perspective of the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (CVMSHCP). The CVMSHCP is a regional conservation plan that will add over 240,000 acres of permanently conserved open space and protect 27 species, safeguarding the desert's natural heritage for future generations. The CVMSHCP provides a regional vision for balanced growth to meet the requirements of federal and state endangered species laws and helps to expedite development including transportation improvement projects, while promoting enhanced opportunities for recreation, tourism and job growth.
The flights allowed us to see the diversity and interconnectedness of this valley, flying over each of the cities. The wildlife corridors that will be protected by the CVMSHCP also have the potential for connecting the Coachella Valley to Joshua Tree National Park via a number of proposed trails. We also looked at Shavers Valley, where wildlife crosses into Joshua Tree National Park and discussed a proposed development here, which could have large-scale impacts on this scenic area. Dos Palmas, which drains into the Salton Sea, is one of the few places in the valley with a constant supply of water and includes a rich array of desert habitats, and is home to the endangered desert pupfish.
We flew over the Coachella Valley Preserve established by the first regional habitat conservation plan to balance development and protection of an endangered species, Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard. Unfortunately we were too high to see this cool little guy with his perfectly shaped head designed, for diving head first into the soft windblown sand dunes.