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We delve into the world of the saguaro cactus, exploring its cultural significance, scientific studies, and more. We talk to journalist Henry Brean of the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson storyteller Audrey Scheere about different aspects of this magnificent plant, the threats it faces,  and how people interact with it — for good or ill. Join us as we uncover the secrets of the saguaro!Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
Chris and Alicia discuss the recent victory in delaying exploration for lithium near Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. They also announce the formation of the Desert Advocacy Media Network, the podcast's new nonprofit organization home. The hosts then delve into their love for the desert plant, the Globe Mallow. They share personal stories and observations about the plant's adaptability and its role in the desert ecosystem.Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
Mason Voehl from the Amargosa Conservancy joins hosts Chris Clarke and Alicia Pike to discuss the threat posed by a Canadian mining company's plans to conduct exploratory drilling for lithium near the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada. The drilling could potentially puncture the aquifer and cause catastrophic damage to the fragile ecosystem. The hosts highlight the conflict between the need for renewable energy and the preservation of biodiversity, and call for public support to protect Ash Meadows. They provide a petition and encourage donations to the Amargosa Conservancy to help in the fight. Episode photo of Devils Hole pupfish by Olin Feuerbacher/US Fish and Wildlife ServiceBecome a desert defender!: for privacy information.
We spend a lot of time correcting misapprehensions about the desert. But don't get the impression we think we're flawless! We've made our share of mistakes about the desert as well. In this episode, we share some of the things we once thought about the desert that are just plain wrong, on topics ranging from rainfall to rattlesnakes. And of course we do this on a hike in the Mojave Desert.Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
Chris and Alicia talk to Elizabeth Paige of Native American Land Conservancy and Save Our Springs.  Podcast episode photo by John Fowler.Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
S2E7: Superb Loom

S2E7: Superb Loom


There are flowers to be seen in the desert, if you know where to look. Chris and Alicia de-stress while enjoying the best of the desert, and discuss how best to celebrate such effusive blooms without destroying them.Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
We here at 90 Miles from Needles are big fans of The Border Chronicle podcast and email newsletter, and in this episode, we're republishing an episode from that podcast first aired in November in which Melissa Del Bosque talks to Texas border activist Scott Nicol about how the Biden Administration is continuing to build Trump's border wall, though it's called something else. From The Border Chronicle's description: Scott Nicol is an artist, educator and environmentalist in South Texas who has advocated against border wall construction for years and is an expert on the subject. In this Border Chronicle podcast, Nicol talks about the current construction of wall in his community, which is being labeled as “levee repairs.” And he touches on other wall construction happening in other states despite President Biden’s promise during his campaign “that not another foot of wall” would be constructed during his administration. You can hear more of The Border Chronicle by checking out their website at Their email newsletter is extremely good. Also! 90 Miles from Needles is going non-profit! Public support of our podcast has been extremely gratifying, and yet we're going to have to bring in more resources to fulfill our vision for this podcast, of covering the whole desert without burning ourselves out -- and adding new voices to the show. We'll be bringing you more information on this as our work progresses over the next few months, getting our paperwork in order and assembling a top-notch and diverse board of desert activists, communicators, and other like-minded heroes. In the meantime, we could use your donations, if you've been meaning to drop us some cash!Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
The US Interior Department is rethinking the ways it has managed big corporate solar on public lands, and we have opinions. Chris pontificates based on his many years of covering public lands renewable energy as a recovering journalist, and Alicia interrupts his solarsplaining once in a while to inject some non-jargon-ridden analysis. We love solar! We want it in our backyards! And we want to protect desert habitat from industrial development. We can do both.Also: we announce a new project, a special project podcast focusing on the wonderful Amargosa Basin in Nevada and California. More on that soon.  If you'd like to hear more of Charlie King's work, check out his website at  The album Chris mentions in the closing notes can be purchased here, with all proceeds going to the artist.Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
Alicia talks to a well-organized group of desert denizens who are working together to stop an inappropriate development from destroying their way of life, and the desert environment they cherish.  For more information, or to tell California's San Bernardino County to insist on a full environmental review of the project, see Extra thanks to Lucas Basulto of NPCA and Saving Slowpoke, and to the wonderful Lisa M. for reading samples from the writing of Helen Bagley. Watch this site for news of Lisa's performance in March.Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
In late 2022, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey ordered the illegal construction of sections of ineffective but ecologically disastrous border wall made out of shipping containers. Then, in response to a federal order as he prepared to leave office, he ordered that wall torn down. Protesters on the ground helped in a big way, by forcing contractors to stop work on the project. We talk to Melissa Del Bosque, co-founder of the Border Chronicle project, a podcast and email newsletter reporting on border issues from Tucson, AZ. Our interview is accompanied by audio recorded on the scene of the illegal border container wall by Patrick Donnelly of the Center for Biological Diversity. Then, Chris and Alicia discuss upcoming episodes of the podcast and thank you listeners for your support.Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
Edwin P. (Phil) Pister, who died January 17, was a fisheries biologist long employed by the California Department of Fish and Game (now Fish and Wildlife.) He was involved in working to protect numerous fish in Eastern California and beyond, including the golden trout and the Devils Hole pupfish. We here republish an excerpt of Episode 7 from Season 1 that featured Phil talking about the moment when he literally, with his own two hands, saved the Owens pupfish from extinction.  Phil was also a founding member of the Desert Fishes Council, which you can join here. Thanks to the DFC for putting Phil's photo where we could swipe it. (Edited to add: Photo taken by John Wullschleger.) And thanks to Phil for everything.Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
Welcome to Season 2! Chris and Alicia spend time communing with an 11,700-year-old creosote in the Mojave Desert, and discuss the species' importance as well as the ethics of treating millennia-old beings as disposable. King Clone's Wikipedia page is here.  If for some reason you want to learn more about creosote gall midges, you can start here.  You can learn more about the Western Solar PEIS, and find out how to make a comment, at this site. Comment deadline is currently February 6, so don't dawdle! If you're looking for the lin to Letters From the Desert, it's here.Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
The desert ironwood, Olneya tesota, is the basis of an entire ecosystem in the Sonoran desert. And this ecosystem includes people. Alicia and Chris hike in Ironwood Country and talk to the renowned Petey Mesquitey, host of Growing Native on KXCI in Tucson AZ, about this wonderful tree. We also take a little time to thank those of you who've made our first season a resounding success. Check us out at to see what we have planned for 2023! Listen to Petey Mesquitey's Growing Native at This episode is dedicated in memory of 90 Miler and Patreon supporter Heather Hurley, who persuaded Chris 20 years ago that Boron, CA was a more interesting place than he had realized. We will miss you, friend.Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
The largest reptile in the Mojave faces threats ranging from predation to illegal collection to loss of habitat. But the desert tortoise has defenders. We talk to Tim Shields of Hardshell Labs  about his campaign to use 21st century tech to help the tortoises, and Luke Basulto of Saving Slowpoke (and the National Parks Conservation Association's California Desert team) about his work to bring the beast a new generation of supporters in communities of color.Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
On October 12, the California Fish and Game Commission postponed a decision yet again on whether to grant the western Joshua tree protection under the California Endangered Species Act. Chris and Alicia speak to Brendan Cummings of the Center for Biological Diversity about what happened, and what the future holds for the beleaguered tree. Plus news! Learn more about the Center for Biological Diversity: Listen to the California Fish and Game Commission's October 12 meeting: Read the Salt Lake Tribune article on Steven Lund's crackpot nuclear idea to "save" the Great Salt Lake: Comment on the Rough Hat Clark County solar project: Basin and Range Watch has more about Rough Hat Clark County solar: Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
Solar in the built environment could meet America's need for electrical power. But still the desert is in the crosshairs. Public lands with intact habitat are coming under extreme threat because of the Inflation Reduction Act and subsidies for utility scale solar. Shannon Salter is the founder of Mojave Green, an environmental organization dedicated to protecting the Mojave Desert. She organized a protest event at the site of the Yellow Pine Solar Project in Pahrump Nevada, one of dozens of solar projects proposed along the route of the pending Green Link West transmission line. we were there with our recording equipment. Also, Chris and Alicia come upon a mystery in the Mojave Desert.  Take our reader survey at Eplanning site for Bonnie Claire Lithium More on the Piñon -Juniper study: Keep tabs on those frisky Devils Hole pupfish: Keep our podcast going!    Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
We're not going to be able to save the desert if we self-immolate. Alicia reads Chris the riot act about taking time to enjoy the desert without being preoccupied by saving it. He responds by heading to the Colorado River. Also, we are happy to report on a major blow to the fiendish Cadiz water mining project, and we read your letters. Well, one letter anyway.Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
Alicia takes on one of her personal bugbears: the endless supply of mylar balloons landing in the desert, choking wildlife and starting fires, just because people don't care what happens to their floating trash. Also, we subject Joshua Tree National Park superintendent David Smith to the Reddit Ask Me Anything treatment. Episode image, which is kinda on the nose if you ask us, via our pal Cyndi T. in Tucson. Find the Desert Balloon Project at Check out jobs at Joshua Tree National Park: Check out the JTNP Climbing Management Plan in progress: a desert defender!: for privacy information.
As the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts contend with record rainfalls, climate change and urban development are drying up the Great Salt Lake. We talk to David Smith of Joshua Tree National Park about floods in desert parks, and Zachary Frankel of Utah Rivers Council about saving the Salt Lake.Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
With bad news all around, how do we keep up our strength and resolve to protect the places that matter? Chris and Alicia start an ongoing conversation in a couple of those places. In between, 90 Miles from Needles talks to LA Times reporter Louis Sahagun about his reporting on a new problem facing the desert's ancient bristlecone pines.Become a desert defender!: for privacy information.
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