Elden Hughes

The Los Angeles Times published an article on the passing of long time desert conservationist Elden Hughes.  He worked with others in the Sierra Club to advocate for the California Desert Protection Act in the early nineties, and supported the Wildlands Conservancy's purchase and protection of hundreds of thousands of acres in the Mojave Desert, which are now at the center of new desert legislation.  More recently he brought attention to the destruction of desert habitat by large solar facilities.  Mr. Hughes spoke up against BrightSource Energy's Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.  He was no stranger to Ivanpah.  In 1998 he brought attention to destructive plans to build an airport in the remote desert valley to serve the ever-expanding Las Vegas.

I never got to meet Mr. Hughes, but I feel humbled by his tenacity and commitment to desert conservation.   I'm feeling grateful for the efforts of Elden Hughes and others over the years to protect our desert wildlands.  It's so easy to be down about the struggle to save such beautiful places, but reading Mr. Hughes' story is a reminder that the struggle is not a new one, and that it will require dedication and resolve to keep it going.  In the Los Angeles Times article, Mr. Hughes' passion and deep conservation ethic shine through in this exclamation as he toured desert lands being acquired by the Wildlands Conservancy:
In an interview at the time, Hughes, an honorary vice president of the Sierra Club, stood on a ridgeline high above a patch of former railroad property, breathed reverently and reached out with his hands to embrace the vistas of gleaming ancient lava flows, dry washes pocked with cactus and a lone mountain where a blue bird flitted from smoke tree to creosote bush.

"My god, this landscape is grand," he said. "I'm going to encourage folks to go out and see it, walk it, drive it and photograph it."


  1. Read the article... an amazing man. So glad he accomplished so much. Allows us (and hopefully the generations behind us) to enjoy the natural desert.


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