We're dedicated to the parks we love. That's why back in January, Parks Project staff traveled from Los Angeles out to our big backyard of Joshua Tree National Park for a weekend of exploring, camping, and volunteering in the park.
We joined up with the National Park Service's Joshua tree monitoring team to help them research the park's namesake tree. Remarkably little is known about Joshua trees, and this research is part of a large, long-term effort to better understand these iconic plants and how they are being impacted by climate change.
What is known is that Joshua trees grow slowly—typically only 3 to 5 centimeters a year. In order to track the progress of their growth and better understand their general health, the NPS closely monitors the trees and uses a series of methods to help track progress so we can better understand and protect them.
Here’s how it works: after using GPS coordinates to locate a research zone determined by the NPS, we mapped out a 50 x 50 meter zone and measured all of the Joshua Trees within that square. We recorded location, height, diameter, growth traits, and health of the trees. By looking at the density of the trees in the area as well as the status of the plants—dead, alive, or sprouting—this data helps researchers understand how the trees are growing and what we can do to ensure their survival.
The program monitors thousands of trees under this program, utilizing volunteers and park staff to track important data related to the park’s namesake tree.
We’re grateful for the work of volunteers and park staff who do this important work and thankful to have been included!