Hot Spot

Joshua Tree National Park 2019

Twentynine Palms, CA

Joshua Tree National Park is the closest National Park to both San Diego and Los Angeles.  This close proximity to such major population centers brings with it extreme levels of visitation with varying levels of stewardship education as well as a diverse range of recreational interests.  Even with infrastructure in the park in place, the fragile desert ecosystem including vast amounts of living soil crust (also known as cryptobiotic soil) is being heavily degraded by unsustainable cross-country travel.   Other major impacts include illegal off-highway vehicle (OHV) travel, graffiti, and building of illegal structures within archaeological sites.  In the context of this Hot Spot, the primary impact issues have to do with damage to archaeological resources and disruption to ethnographic resources. The degradation of resources primarily occurs around rock shelters and other archeological sites from human waste, campfire impacts, trash, and soil disturbance. These impacts are frequently associated with illegal camping as well as unknowingly rock climbing/bouldering around sites. Visitor created trails to access climbing/bouldering areas and traverse backcountry areas are also a concern.


  • 235 People Educated
  • 56 Volunteer Hours Facilitated
  • 2,406 Feet Of Trail Hardened

Throughout the Hot Spot activation week, we were able to host and facilitate a variety of educational and strategic planning sessions aimed at addressing current needs while also focusing on future planning in regards to Leave No Trace implementation. A series of educational workshops were held for NPS and other local stakeholders, outfitters and guides, as well as the regional climbing community.  Part of the programming was overlapped with the annual Climb Smart event, aimed at building stewardship ethics in the local climbing community.  As part of this, we were able to interact with and educate many experienced and aspiring outdoor climbing enthusiasts.  In addition to the educational programs and future-forward planning sessions, we produced an educational video that can be used in visitor centers and for web-based resources.

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