The Mojave and Colorado Deserts are considered globally significant areas characterized by supporting a high diversity of plants and wildlife as well as providing numerous ecosystem services for humans, native plants, and wildlife. This region is the ancestral homeland of tribal communities, and it also provides world-class public access and recreational opportunities. As a result of efforts undertaken by individuals and entities with a strong interest in protecting the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, Assembly Bill 1183, now known as the California Desert Conservation Act, was approved by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 28, 2021. Passage of the California Desert Conservation Act established the Desert Conservation Program under the administration of the Wildlife Conservation Board. The Desert Conservation Program includes the following actions:
- Protect, preserve, and restore the natural, cultural, and physical resources of the portions of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts region in California through the acquisition, restoration, and management of lands.
- Promote the protection and restoration of the biological diversity of the region.
- Provide for resilience in the region to climate change.
- Protect and improve air quality and water resources within the region.
- Undertake efforts to enhance public use and enjoyment of lands owned by the public.
The Wildlife Conservation Board accepts pre-applications for acquisition, restoration, and management projects on a continuous basis. Eligible projects include, but are not limited to:
- Acquisition of land, especially parcels that are part of a wildlife movement corridor, contain water sources, have sacred or culturally significant tribal sites, protect listed species, or provide public access
- Restoration of riparian and upland vegetation
- Invasive plant removal and control.
- Seed collection, processing, and propagation
- Scientific studies, especially those that help aid in the recovery of listed species.
Entities eligible to apply for grant funding under the Desert Conservation Program include: federal and state agencies, local public agencies, tribal entities, and non-profits with 501 (c)(3) tax exempt status.