Blooming desert wildflowers served as the perfect backdrop for Friends of the Desert Mountains to receive the $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. Each year more than 20,000 valley residents and visitors enjoy the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center, off Highway 74, and hiking trails, which the organization supports.
Friends of the Desert Mountains recognizes the ever-increasing popularity of the Coachella Valley hiking trails among residents and visitors, and aims to improve safety, usability, and the enjoyment of the entire trail system. Grant funds will benefit the organization’s Trail Stewardship Program.
“We plan to use a portion of the grant proceeds to enhance the Ed Hastey Trail, which is the trail accessible to strollers and wheelchairs, to include tactile and other sensory experiences specifically designed for those with vision, hearing, and other sensory impairments,” said Tammy Martin, Executive Director of Friends of the Desert Mountains.
Friends of the Desert Mountains maintains more than 500 miles of recreational, hiking, biking, equestrian trails in the Coachella Valley. Although much of the work for the program is carried out by volunteers, the program incurs costs associated with the upkeep and replacement of tools, sign and exhibit printing, signposts and associated materials, and staff time related to coordination and design.
“I was hiking these trails a few weeks ago,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “As Coachella Valley residents ourselves, we are interested in seeing that these areas are preserved and maintained for future generations of valley residents and visitors to enjoy.”
Beyond conservation and preservation, the mission of Friends of the Desert Mountains includes research and education. The organization provides outdoor education to several hundred students from various Coachella Valley school districts each year.
“After acquiring more than 50,000 acres of land to maintain in conservation, Friends of the Desert Mountains is a natural authority to teach stewardship of our precious resources,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.
Along with the grant, Friends of the Desert Mountains was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of March. Friends of the Desert Mountains is located at the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center, 51500 Highway 74, Palm Desert. For more information and a calendar of events, visit www.desertmountains.org.
# # #