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Lancaster is encouraging its residents to help maintain its natural resources. The expansion of the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve can help to ensure the protection of Joshua Trees and California Junipers as well as a local habitat for endangered species.

The city council gave the go ahead recently to add 20.32 acres to the popular nature preserve. The land had been owned by a developer who had planned to construct a housing subdivision, but in April 2016 local residents, encouraged by the work of the Audubon Society, suggested that the city add to the existing 100-acre park.

“It is critical that we consider what we can do to create the best possible environment for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Paris. “Development must not only meet today’s needs; we must always be looking forward toward the future. The new Prime Desert Wooodland Preserve acquisition expands this wonderful venue where residents can walk, hike, or learn about our region’s flora and fauna.”

The expansion not only preserves endangered and natural habitants of the preserve, it also affords opportunities for expanding the recreation trail network within the park itself, while providing a larger venue in which visitors can walk and hike. It is also a nod to better physical fitness because of the availability of walking and hiking trails, fresh air and warm sunshine.

“The Prime Desert Woodland Preserve expansion is a great example of a public-private community partnership,” said Toi Chisom, assistant to the city manager. “We must remember that such opportunities don’t come around often. We are thankful for the tenacity of our concerned residents as well as the developer’s willingness to work with us to expand the preserve.”

City staff are working with the Woodland Protection Subcommittee and the Audubon Society to foster more community involvement and fundraising opportunities to have the new parcel of land ready for visitors.

For more details, visit cityoflancasterca.org/about-us/departments-services/parks-recreation-arts/parks/prime-desert-woodland-preserve.