Set in the Morongo Basin of the western Mojave Desert, the Burns Piñon Ridge Reserve is a dry, boulder-strewn landscape of shallow canyons and ridges of sculptured granite. Three floristic regions meet at the site: Transverse Range, Sonoran Desert, and Mojave Desert, creating a diverse mixture of flora and fauna characteristic of both deserts and mountains. Habitats intermingling at the reserve include piñon-juniper woodland with elements of Joshua tree woodland and montane chaparral, desert wash, and freshwater seep. At least 153 vertebrate species cross paths here, including desert and coast horned lizards, desert and dusky-footed woodrats, mountain and Gambel’s quail, and three rare species: Townsend’s western big-eared bat, California mastiff bat, and the federally and state-threatened desert tortoise. Research opportunities are enriched by other natural lands throughout the desert, such as the Joshua Tree National Park a few miles away. Two other NRS reserves for desert research are the Philip L. Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center, less than an hour’s drive to the south, and the Jack and Marilyn Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center, two and one-half hours to the east.
Megan Lulow, Reserve Director