The Desert Protective Council Records (1938-2016) document the operations of the Desert Protective Council and various environmental causes across the United States.
The collection consists of correspondence, publications related to environmental projects, news clippings, newsletters, and
topical files. The collection is divided into three series: Administrative Files, Publications, and Topical Files.
The Desert Protective Council (DPC) was first hatched around a campfire in October 1954. What started as a group of over 100
individuals successfully resolving to protect Joshua Tree National Monument from mining grew into a nonprofit dedicated to
the preservation of desert plants, animals, and landscapes. Notable conservationists of the time were affiliated with the
DPC, including the organization's first President and Executive Director, Desert Magazine founder Randall Henderson; biologist Edmund Jaeger; Trailfinders founder Harry C. James; and Dr. Henry Weber. The organization was officially incorporated as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit in July
1955, a designation that would allow for political lobbying for their various causes. Members spent the following 62 years
advocating for various environmental issues. This activism took many different forms, including but not limited to: spearheading
public educational programs, corresponding with government officials regarding proposed legislation, commenting on environmental
management plans by the Bureau of Land Management and similar agencies, and engaging in litigation when no other option was
feasible. The Desert Protection Council worked to prevent excessive off-road activity, dams in Grand Canyon National Park,
military expansion, and the construction of a road through the Santa Rosa mountains that would have destroyed a large riparian
area in Anza-Borrego State Park. In the 1970s and 1980s, board members reviewed numerous drafts and amendments to the California
Desert Plan, which established the California Desert Conservation Area and helped conserve millions of acres in the California
Desert. Later, the Desert Protective Council aided in the drafting and passage of the California Desert Protection Act of
1994. This monumental federal law designated 69 additional areas into the National Wilderness Preservation System and incorporated
Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Monuments into National Parks, thus ensuring future preservation of the lands. In
2001, the Desert Protective Council was one of five environmental organizations to receive $1.67 million in a settlement against
the Gold Fields Mining Corporation and their goal of establishing a landfill in Imperial County. The money from the settlement
was used to create the "Mesquite Fund," which the Desert Protective Council used to fund various educational programs in Imperial
County. The Anza-Borrego Foundation's Camp Borrego, a three-day overnight field trip for fifth-grade students, was one such
project and allowed for the participation of over 90 students each year from 2004 to 2016. The Salton Basin Living Laboratory
Field Trip likewise supported the education of over one thousand fourth, fifth, and sixth graders between 2008 and 2012.
In March 2017, the Desert Protective Council was dissolved and their assets and mission were passed along to non-profit Basin
and Range Watch. The legacy of the DPC can also be seen in the Anza-Borrego Foundation, the official nonprofit of Anza-Borrego
Desert State Park, which was born from the Desert Protective Council's Anza-Borrego Committee and became a state-recognized
nonprofit in 1988.
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