Friends of the Desert Mountains is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed in 1987 by concerned citizens in the Coachella Valley. Our mission is to acquire and preserve land in the Coachella Valley and surrounding mountains, and to support education, conservation, and research in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.
How We Work
Friends of the Desert Mountains acts to protect one of our most precious and threatened natural resources: the spectacular desert lands and mountains of the Coachella Valley. Since inception, we have helped protect over 40,000 acres of land in the Coachella Valley and mountains — an area nearly twice the size of the city of Palm Desert. Our work here is urgent:
- From the San Gorgonio Pass to the Salton Sea, the Coachella Valley is home to more than 30 plants and animal species that are rare, threatened or endangered.
- Each year, 3.5 million tourists and conventioneers visit and 19,000 new residents move to the Coachella Valley.
As development changes the face of the valley, it’s important that we act now to protect the wildlife, recreation opportunities, and clean air and water that our open spaces provide.
Our approach to land protection is simple, fair, and effective, tapping the power of both private and public sectors. Working in conjunction with biologists, conservationists, and state and local government agencies, we select land for its scenic, biological, recreational or cultural significance and offer to purchase it at fair market value. We also accept donations of land. Through these key land acquisitions, we give permanent protection to the beauty, character, and diversity of the Coachella Valley.
The Friends’ vision is a Coachella Valley that protects its natural and cultural heritage for the economic and quality of life benefits that provides. We are not political, and we do not take positions on individual developments. We believe conservationists and developers must work together to preserve the Valley’s beautiful vistas and precious wildlife.
Supporting the National Monument
Friends of the Desert Mountains serves as the nonprofit support arm for the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. Minutes from urban Palm Springs, the 280,000 acre Monument provides a dramatic backdrop to our valley and reserves wide open spaces for wildlife and public recreation. For all that the Monument contributes to our quality of life, it’s important that we work to protect it, now and for generations to come.
Friends supported the designation of the National Monument in 2000, and today assists the Monument in many ways, including facility expansion, scientific research, cultural preservation, community outreach programs, interpretive and educational services for visitors, volunteer support for activities, and administration of the bookstore and gift shop in the National Monument Visitor Center.
Through a unique collaboration between the Monument, Friends and the local school districts, an exciting new education program was launched in the fall of 2005 to get local school children in touch with the natural wonders in their backyard. The program, funded by local foundations and private donors, integrates nature study and science education with healthy living skills. To learn more about this program please contact Tracy Albrecht at (760) 833-7100.
Leveraging Private and Public Funds
Through private-public partnerships, Friends of the Desert Mountains has accomplished significant land acquisitions, provided public education, assisted in the creation and development of the Visitor Center and organized volunteers for activities in the Monument and the community.
Since 1990, we have assisted the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy in protecting thousands of acres of critical lands. The two organizations have complementary strengths: as a private nonprofit organization, Friends of the Desert Mountains can negotiate quickly and privately with willing sellers as opportunities arise. As a state agency, the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy uses its bond-generated funds to support the acquisition of these lands.
Donor contributions are crucial to our success, enabling us to act quickly when properties become available. Donations allow us to leverage matching funds from public agencies, and continually replenish our land acquisition fund, which provides the capital necessary to save more land in the future. We also rely on the generosity of private foundations, many of which have contributed to Friends’ success. Local city government funding has also helped us in providing educational and interpretive materials to visitors in the National Monument.
Through these partnerships, we are able to accomplish much more toward conserving open space and supporting the National Monument than any of us could achieve alone. To help us continue our mission please visit our Join Us Page and show your support through donations, joining our mailing list, or becoming a volunteer!