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Desert Protective Council (DPC) Records

Identifier: MS-0103

Scope and Contents

The Desert Protective Council Records (1938-2016) document the operations of the Desert Protective Council and various environmental causes across the United States. The collection consists of correspondence, publications related to environmental projects, news clippings, newsletters, and topical files. The collection is divided into three series: Administrative Files, Publications, and Topical Files.

The Administrative Files series is divided into six sub-series: Meeting Minutes, Membership and Elections, Educational Outreach Program Materials, Correspondence, Photographs and Scrapbooks, and Awards. Meeting Minutes (1954-2013) include Desert Protective Council and California State Parks and Recreation Board of Directors minutes, which often contain both the draft and official copies. Meeting minutes are arranged alphabetically and chronologically. The Membership and Elections (1955-2006) sub-series contains files documenting the administration of the Desert Protective Council and includes election ballots, membership rosters, and the treasurer and secretary's notebooks. Educational Outreach Program Materials (2004-2015) consist of student projects and quizzes, student and parent testimonials, and detailed information about various educational field trips and sponsored projects. The Correspondence subseries is organized alphabetically by last name of at least one of the correspondents, and consists of correspondence between various Desert Protective Council board members, though there are some letters to and from government officials as well. The Photographs and Scrapbooks (1954-2012) sub-series includes slides, photographs, and scrapbooks documenting Desert Protective Council activities. Awards (1956-2009) consists of various plaques and certificates related to the preservation of the environment and includes awards both from the Desert Protective Council and from external organizations to Desert Protective Council Members.

The Publications Series is the largest of the three series in the collection and is divided into six sub-series: Bureau of Land Management, Desert Bighorn Council, General Environmental Reports, Newsletters and Pamphlets, Newspapers, and Newspaper Clippings. All sub-series are organized alphabetically and chronologically. The Bureau of Land Management sub-series consists of documents published by the Bureau of Land Management regarding proposed environmental projects. The sub-series is further divided into Environmental Impact Reports and Statements (1974-2012) and General Bureau of Land Management Publications (1962-2004). Environmental Impact Reports and Statements consists of drafts and final copies of official Bureau of Land Management impact reports, which range in topic from wilderness designations, to wind energy projects, to the California Desert Plan implementation. The General Bureau of Land Management Publications sub-series contains other documents and reports published by the Bureau of Land Management that is not EIRs. Similarly, Desert Bighorn Council sub-series consists of reports published by the Desert Bighorn Council between 1957-1974 and mostly deals with "transactions": publications detailing the number and preservation of bighorn sheep among the American West and Mexico. General Environmental Reports (1938-2005) consist of publications and documents similar to those within the first two sub-series, but published by other agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, The Sierra Club, San Diego Gas and Electric, and more. The Newsletters and Pamphlets (1955-2016) sub-series includes Desert Protective Council Newsletters "El Paisano" and "Educational Bulletins," as well as pamphlets, newsletters, and brochures published by various environmental non-profits, charities, government agencies, and museums. Newspapers (1962-1995) mainly includes editions of "High Country News," with numerous local and specialty papers as well. The Newspaper Clippings subseries (1957-2000) is organized chronologically and consists entirely of cut-out articles dealing with environmental topics.

The Topical Files (1950-2014) are also quite expansive. Organized alphabetically, this series overlaps with a number of other series, containing numerous files with detailed notes and supplemental documents regarding organizational documents, governmental publications, and environmental projects. Although not delineated into sub-series, individual files may be labeled according to a topic before the actual title. For example, correspondence related to the Barstow - Las Vegas Off-Roading Race is filed under "Off-Roading: Barstow - Las Vegas: Correspondence."


  • Creation: 1938-2016
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1954-2016


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Historical Note

The Desert Protective Council (DPC) was first hatched around a campfire in October 1954. What started as a group of over 100 individuals successfully resolving to protect Joshua Tree National Monument from mining grew into a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of desert plants, animals, and landscapes. Notable conservationists of the time were affiliated with the DPC, including the organization's first President and Executive Director, Desert Magazine founder Randall Henderson; biologist Edmund Jaeger; Trailfinders founder Harry C. James; and Dr. Henry Weber. The organization was officially incorporated as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit in July 1955, a designation that would allow for political lobbying for their various causes.

Members spent the following 62 years advocating for various environmental issues. This activism took many different forms, including but not limited to: spearheading public educational programs, corresponding with government officials regarding proposed legislation, commenting on environmental management plans by the Bureau of Land Management and similar agencies, and engaging in litigation when no other option was feasible. The Desert Protection Council worked to prevent excessive off-road activity, dams in Grand Canyon National Park, military expansion, and the construction of a road through the Santa Rosa mountains that would have destroyed a large riparian area in Anza-Borrego State Park.

In the 1970s and 1980s, board members reviewed numerous drafts and amendments to the California Desert Plan, which established the California Desert Conservation Area and helped conserve millions of acres in the California Desert. Later, the Desert Protective Council aided in the drafting and passage of the California Desert Protection Act of 1994. This monumental federal law designated 69 additional areas into the National Wilderness Preservation System and incorporated Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Monuments into National Parks, thus ensuring future preservation of the lands.

In 2001, the Desert Protective Council was one of five environmental organizations to receive $1.67 million in a settlement against the Gold Fields Mining Corporation and their goal of establishing a landfill in Imperial County. The money from the settlement was used to create the "Mesquite Fund," which the Desert Protective Council used to fund various educational programs in Imperial County. The Anza-Borrego Foundation's Camp Borrego, a three-day overnight field trip for fifth-grade students, was one such project and allowed for the participation of over 90 students each year from 2004 to 2016. The Salton Basin Living Laboratory Field Trip likewise supported the education of over one thousand fourth, fifth, and sixth graders between 2008 and 2012.

In March 2017, the Desert Protective Council was dissolved and their assets and mission were passed along to non-profit Basin and Range Watch. The legacy of the DPC can also be seen in the Anza-Borrego Foundation, the official nonprofit of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which was born from the Desert Protective Council's Anza-Borrego Committee and became a state-recognized nonprofit in 1988.


66.62 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

I. Administrative Files

1. Meeting Minutes, 1954-2013

2. Membership and Elections, 1955-2006

3. Educational Outreach Program Materials, 2004-2015

4. Correspondence

5. Photographs and Scrapbooks, 1954-2012

6. Awards, 1956-2009

II. Publications, 1938-2016

1. Bureau of Land Management, 1962-2012

a. Environmental Impact Reports and Statements, 1974-2012

b. General Bureau of Land Management Publications, 1962-2004

2. Desert Bighorn Council, 1957-1974

3. General Environmental Reports, 1938-2016

4. Newsletters and Pamphlets, 1955-2016

5. Newspapers, 1962-1995

6. News Clippings, 1957-2000

III. Topical Files, 1950-2014

Source of Acquisition

Desert Protective Council (Terry Weiner)

Accruals and Additions

2002-036, 2016-019, 2016-033

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Desert Protective Council (DPC) Records
Riley Wilson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US