Tracking land policy in the Golden State.
Wildlife
An Ancient Partnership Put in Danger

An Ancient Partnership Put in Danger

The Hidden Desert: Giant Sequoias and coast redwoods are among the many trees put on a group's endangered list, but the story of whitebark pine should not be overlooked.
Drones for Good: Researcher to Study Foxes From the Air

Drones for Good: Researcher to Study Foxes From the Air

The Hidden Desert: A wildlife biologist grad student at Duke University wants to remedy our lack of knowledge about desert kit foxes, and she's using some remarkably new technology to do so -- both in the field and on the Internet.
Malibu Least Terns Have Flown Back To Venice Beach

Malibu Least Terns Have Flown Back To Venice Beach

Wildlife: The least terns that had set up shop at the Malibu Lagoon for the first time in 73 years have returned to Venice Beach as of last Saturday.
A First in 73 Years: Endangered Birds Nesting Again at Malibu Lagoon

A First in 73 Years: Endangered Birds Nesting Again at Malibu Lagoon

Wildlife: The terns are migratory seabirds that breed primarily along the California coast. Only two other sites have been found in L.A. County.
Fox Populi: Near-Extinct Species Makes a Comeback on CA Islands

Fox Populi: Near-Extinct Species Makes a Comeback on CA Islands

Wildlife: The fox population on Santa Cruz Island has recovered in just 10 years. Its story can teach us about nature, conservation, and the future.
Proposed Trash Dump Next to Joshua Tree National Park Canceled

Proposed Trash Dump Next to Joshua Tree National Park Canceled

Land Use: In a bit of long-awaited good news for Joshua Tree National Park and its wild residents, the agency responsible for disposing of L.A. County's trash has abandoned the idea of using the closed Eagle Mountain Mine as a landfill.
Drift Nets Threatening Marine Life Off California Coast

Drift Nets Threatening Marine Life Off California Coast

Wildlife: A gruesome secret hides in the waters off the California coast: mile-long nets that sit in the ocean like invisible walls.
Why Isn't the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Protecting Eagles?

Why Isn't the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Protecting Eagles?

The Hidden Desert: If FWS really wanted to get "aggressive" in enforcing the provisions of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act that protect eagles, it would send a message not by way of a press release, but by way of the local U.S. Attorney.
'Crisis Mode': Sick Sea Lions a Growing Concern in Orange County

'Crisis Mode': Sick Sea Lions a Growing Concern in Orange County

Wildlife: A Laguna Beach-based marine life rescue group has seen such an increase in the number of severely dehydrated and malnourished sea lion pups this season that the organization is calling it an epidemic.
Bill Would Ban Bobcat Trapping in California

Bill Would Ban Bobcat Trapping in California

The Hidden Desert: After controversy was sparked in Joshua Tree, a bill has been introduced into the state legislature that would end the California's nearly unregulated bobcat trapping season.
Why California Should Ban Bobcat Trapping

Why California Should Ban Bobcat Trapping

The Hidden Desert: The last time you took a long road trip, did you assume you had enough gas because you checked the gas gauge a couple days ago? That's how California manages its bobcat population: letting the "supply" go uncounted for more than three decades as we burn through a thousand or more each year.
New Spider Species Remind Us Just How Much We Don't Know About the Desert

New Spider Species Remind Us Just How Much We Don't Know About the Desert

The Hidden Desert: The discovery of 13 new desert spider species reminds us that our deserts are largely unexplored by biologists, and that we may be losing species before we know they're there.
What the Eagle Video Hoax Says About Our Place in Nature

What the Eagle Video Hoax Says About Our Place in Nature

The Hidden Desert: Even exposed as a hoax, the "eagle captures child" video's immediate extreme popularity reminds us of something very real indeed about our place in the natural world.
Owens Valley Water Wars Heat Up Again

Owens Valley Water Wars Heat Up Again

The Hidden Desert: In November, the California Air Resources Board ruled that according to data from lakebed monitors, the DWP was solely responsible for the horrendous air quality caused by dust blowing off Owens Lake. DWP's response? Get rid of the monitors.
Antelope Squirrels Get Ready For Winter

Antelope Squirrels Get Ready For Winter

The Hidden Desert: Here's a Mojave Desert living pro-tip: don't leave your jackalope on the porch in November. If you do, the antelope squirrels will strip off its fur to line their nests.
The Dog In The Road

The Dog In The Road

The Hidden Desert: I could only stand there, on the white line in the middle of the two-lane desert road, and hope the oncoming cars saw me in my dark clothing in time to slow and swerve around us.
Autumn Comes To The Desert

Autumn Comes To The Desert

The Hidden Desert: The shifting seasons bring changes to the Mojave Desert
Cactus Removal to Begin in Joshua Tree National Park

Cactus Removal to Begin in Joshua Tree National Park

The Hidden Desert: Joshua Tree National Park plans to make it easier for people to leave their cars and see cholla cacti by removing cholla to make more room for cars.
House Cats: Why I Don't Let Mine Outside

House Cats: Why I Don't Let Mine Outside

The Hidden Desert: Keeping your cat inside really is better for everyone concerned: you, your cat, and the wildlife struggling to live outdoors.
Ladder Pattern: Woodpeckers of the Mojave Desert

Ladder Pattern: Woodpeckers of the Mojave Desert

The Hidden Desert: If you see a woodpeckery-looking woodpecker in the Mojave, it's probably a ladder-backed.
Gathering Nuts In The Desert

Gathering Nuts In The Desert

The Hidden Desert: We're approaching pine nut gathering time in the California Deserts.
The Desert, With its Life Underground

The Desert, With its Life Underground

The Hidden Desert: Beneath the surface of the desert lies an ecosystem as intricate and diverse as a coral reef.
Shark Attack Prompts Warning at Santa Barbara Beaches

Shark Attack Prompts Warning at Santa Barbara Beaches

Wildlife: A recent shark attack on a sea lion has prompted Santa Barbara officials to post warning signs at city beaches today.
Rat Poison, Peet's Coffee, and the California Desert

Rat Poison, Peet's Coffee, and the California Desert

Wildlife: The coffee chain is caught in the middle of two cycles: one in nature, the other in the corporate world.
What it's Like to Witness a Grunion Run

What it's Like to Witness a Grunion Run

Wildlife: It can only be described as massive, salty, sandy, beachfront orgy. And we had front row seats.
A Brief Primer to Quail in the California Desert

A Brief Primer to Quail in the California Desert

Wildlife: Gambel's quail is a species widespread throughout the less-developed parts of the desert southwest.
Officials Yet to Confirm Mountain Lion Sightings in L.A. Neighborhoods

Officials Yet to Confirm Mountain Lion Sightings in L.A. Neighborhoods

Wildlife: Sightings have been reported in two L.A. neighborhoods that stretch into the Santa Monica Mountains.
Lessons of Extinction Told Through 2 California Desert Animals

Lessons of Extinction Told Through 2 California Desert Animals

Wildlife: News from the ominous Red List for at-risk and near-extinct animals includes two updates to California animals: the Sonoran mud turtle and Amargosa springsnail.
Mountain Lion Shot and Killed in Santa Monica Had Unique DNA, Was Not An Exotic Pet

Mountain Lion Shot and Killed in Santa Monica Had Unique DNA, Was Not An Exotic Pet

Wildlife: The mountain lion that wandered into downtown Santa Monica and was fatally shot last month was a young male genetically linked to a local population and was not an exotic pet, according to the National Park Service.
Not Empty, Not Barren: Why You Shouldn't Diss the Desert

Not Empty, Not Barren: Why You Shouldn't Diss the Desert

Wildlife: The Mojave has long stood in, in the public mind, for barrenness, an impression reinforced by generations of forbidding location shots in westerns and other films, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
Eagles May be Latest Casualty of Renewables Policy

Eagles May be Latest Casualty of Renewables Policy

Wildlife: As concern grows over the toll industrial wind turbines take on California's largest birds, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to change the permitting system -- and it may not be for the better.
Western Scrub Jays are Replanting the Desert One Acorn at a Time

Western Scrub Jays are Replanting the Desert One Acorn at a Time

Commentary: The birds are excellent at storing food, but they do lose a significant portion of their acorn caches to germination.
Slow Down! Roadkill in the Desert

Slow Down! Roadkill in the Desert

Commentary: The easiest way to see wildlife in the California desert is also one of the saddest.
Mountain Lion Living in Griffith Park, Wildlife Study Finds

Mountain Lion Living in Griffith Park, Wildlife Study Finds

Wildlife: It may seem alarming that there is a Mountain Lion living in Griffith Park, but it's certainly not the first time (remember 2004?) and is likely not the last.
Is There a Bigger Environmental Issue Than Climate Change? Scientists Say Yes.

Is There a Bigger Environmental Issue Than Climate Change? Scientists Say Yes.

Wildlife: Climate change is a serious issue, but a couple of recent studies remind us that it may not be the biggest threat to life on Earth as we know it. What else is there? Loss of biodiversity.
Native Fish in a Bone-Dry River: The Mohave Tui Chub's Slow Comeback

Native Fish in a Bone-Dry River: The Mohave Tui Chub's Slow Comeback

Wildlife: You might find the notion that Southern California's Mojave River has a native fish a bit surprising. After all, for most of its 110-mile run from the San Bernardino Mountains out to Baker the riverbed is dry as a bone, its water flowing underground if at all.
An Intro to Mockingbirds: The Noisiest, Most Aggressive Small Bird You'll Ever Meet

An Intro to Mockingbirds: The Noisiest, Most Aggressive Small Bird You'll Ever Meet

Wildlife: It's that time of year again in the desert when throughout the urban desert, mockingbirds start to defend their nests again, harassing just about every living thing that comes near.
The Ambiguous Extinction of the Desert Slender Salamander

The Ambiguous Extinction of the Desert Slender Salamander

Wildlife: The desert slender salamander, declared endangered soon after its discovery in 1969, has not been seen in the wild since the 1990s. Still, wildlife biologists aren't ready to declare it extinct. At least not yet.
Hollywood Gives Rattlers A Bad Rap, Again

Hollywood Gives Rattlers A Bad Rap, Again

Commentary: Rattlesnakes are timid, generally gentle animals. Given any choice at all, they will always do what they can to avoid biting you.
White Pelicans: California's Charismatic Megafauna in the Sky

White Pelicans: California's Charismatic Megafauna in the Sky

Wildlife: White pelicans are common this time of year along the California coast and in the estuary of the Colorado River, but in a few weeks, they will pick up and head for other parts of the country.
Architects of The Desert: Jackrabbits and Cottontails

Architects of The Desert: Jackrabbits and Cottontails

Wildlife: If you see a bunny in the Southern California desert, ask yourself if you'd call it "lanky." If so, that's a jackrabbit. If not, it's a cottontail. Cottontails are compact and pudgy looking. Jackrabbits are neither of those things.
Painted Lady Butterflies Migrate in Big Numbers through San Diego

Painted Lady Butterflies Migrate in Big Numbers through San Diego

Wildlife: They have returned to Southern California, soaring over beaches, across freeways, and into the northwest on their annual migration route.
California Desert's Commonest Lizard Has Uncommon Evolutionary Lesson in Store

California Desert's Commonest Lizard Has Uncommon Evolutionary Lesson in Store

Wildlife: This lizard isn't just a pleasant companion on walks; it's one of the niftiest evolutionary curiosities the desert has to offer.
An Introduction to Desert Sagebrush and its Evolution

An Introduction to Desert Sagebrush and its Evolution

Botany: A sea of sagebrush may appear monotonous to the casual observer, but it turns out sagebrush is a pretty complex thing.
Woodrats: How the Desert's Smallest Librarians Contributed to Scientific Discovery

Woodrats: How the Desert's Smallest Librarians Contributed to Scientific Discovery

Wildlife: Woodrats are popularly called "packrats," and with good reason. They're forever collecting little pieces of their surroundings.
Kit Fox Distemper Outbreak: How did the Deadly Disease Reach the Desert?

Kit Fox Distemper Outbreak: How did the Deadly Disease Reach the Desert?

Commentary: The deadly, highly contagious disease affects dozens of animal species, including coyotes. The virus is mainly spread through contact with infected bodily fluids, urine among them.
Song-Dog Of The Desert: A Quick Primer to Desert and Urban Coyotes

Song-Dog Of The Desert: A Quick Primer to Desert and Urban Coyotes

Commentary: Few wild animals inspire in people the complex mix of affection and loathing that coyotes do. That's a shame.
Whale Watching: Cruising the Orange County Coast with Richard Henry Dana

Whale Watching: Cruising the Orange County Coast with Richard Henry Dana

Golden Green: Wherein the author goes looking for gray whales and gets hooked by 19th-c. sailor-writer Richard Henry Dana.
California's Desert is the 'Rainforest' Next Door

California's Desert is the 'Rainforest' Next Door

Botany: The deserts are largely unexplored, in a biological sense: much of our deserts' biological diversity is yet to be discovered and described. It's a floristic frontier out there.
The Mojave Green & Six Other Rattlers: Snake Season Begins in the Desert

The Mojave Green & Six Other Rattlers: Snake Season Begins in the Desert

Wildlife: Unlike the six or so other rattler species in the California deserts, which possess the standard rattlesnake toxin that causes widespread internal hemorrhaging, the Mojave green adds a neurotoxin to the mix.