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This small cor­ner of the Cal­i­for­nia desert hides a world of rar­i­ties: pinyon forests where in­dige­nous peo­ple have col­lected pine nuts for cen­turies, his­toric trails that car­ried 17th-cen­tury traders from the basin to the crest of the Sierra, Joshua tree deserts where en­demic Inyo rock daisies bloom yel­low in late sum­mer. But the Con­glom­er­ate Mesa, though it’s rich with Cal­i­for­nia’s best-kept se­crets, could also be lit­er­ally rich—with gold. Since it sits less than 2 miles out­side the bound­aries of Death Val­ley Na­tional Park, the mesa re­mains un­pro­tected, so in May, claim hold­ers got the go-ahead for ex­ploratory drilling. The land’s lo­cal al­lies aren’t hav­ing it. They al­ready chal­lenged the first con­trac­tor look­ing to drill this year, and they’re revving up to face the next one. The long-term goal: per­ma­nent pro­tec­tion for the Con­glom­er­ate Mesa. Join the bat­tle at friend­soft­heinyo.org/con­glom­er­ate-mesa.

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