Located in the southern Central Valley, the San Joaquin Desert is the smallest, least recognized and most imperiled true desert in North America, with less than 40% of its original area remaining. The desert was not formally described until 1995 and didn’t gain recognition by the scientific community until 2011. The San Joaquin Desert is floristically distinct with 37 near-endemic and 40 strictendemic plant species. Nearly half of the species are imperiled and listed as endangered, threatened, rare or watch status. This presentation will delve into why it took so long for the San Joaquin to be recognized as a desert, how it is both climatically and floristically similar to the Mojave Desert and what we can do to conserve what little of it remains.
Ryan O’Dell has been a Natural Resource Specialist with the BLM Central Coast Field Office for 14 years. His primary duties include rare plant survey and endangered plant species monitoring and recovery in the central Inner South Coast Ranges and San Joaquin Desert.