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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sand In My Shoes: The Other Mojave

An adventurous trek to the desert leaves crowded cities behind and gives you a chance to capture unique photographs of an arid landscape

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To be sure, the remote desert isn't for everyone. Once away from the towns that sprinkle the vastness, there's little in the way of services or accommodations. Most unimproved roads require high-clearance vehicles at least. You need to be self-sufficient, because if you get into trouble, you can't rely on calling AAA for help. Few remote areas have reliable cellular service. If, however, you long for open space and a kind of simple beauty, then the outback of the Mojave just might be the place for you.

Joe Dovala is a professional photographer who's well known for his underwater images. Besides salt water, another ocean intrigues him, and that's the Southern California deserts. To see more of Joe's photography, visit his website at www.jcdovala.com.

BLM Land

The Grazing Service was merged with the General Land Office to form the Bureau of Land Management in 1946. Their mission: "To establish public land policy; to establish guidelines for its administration; to provide for the management, protection, development, and enhancement of the public lands; and for other purposes." The term "public lands" means any land and interest in land owned by the United States and administered by the Secretary of the Interior through the Bureau of Land Management, without regard to how the U.S. acquired ownership. Hmm, probably don't want to delve too deeply into that last part. Basically, the BLM has the very difficult job of deciding how to allow best use of public land for all.

There are a number of different types of BLM areas, and they encompass nearly 30 million acres:
National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Scenic and Historic Trails and, last but not least, Conservation Lands of the California Desert. Some allow hunting, in season, and/or extraction of resources, like mining and grazing for animals. Free access is allowed through most of these lands except in certain situations; for example, if a particular area contains an endangered species or there's an ongoing revegetation effort, restrictions may apply. In short, as long as you use "common sense" and don't abuse the land, clean up after yourself and heed local rules, you're free to explore and enjoy at will.

Contact: BLM, www.blm.gov.


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