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Minerva Hoyt California Desert Conservation Award

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Minerva Hoyt Mural

Minerva Hoyt Mural | Photo by NPS/Robb Hannawacker | Public Domain | Source

The 2020Minerva Hoyt California Desert Conservation Award Recipient

Dr. Cameron Barrows

Dr. Cameron Barrows

Dr. Barrow’s body of research, academic and community courses, guided hikes, public lectures, advisory committees, and expert panels combine to make him the perfect candidate for this award. He embodies all four of the criteria categories. He spends most of his waking hours working to preserve and protect the California deserts. Through his research, teaching, advocacy, and leadership, he has opened the eyes and hearts of thousands of residents and visitors to the beauty of the region and the importance of protecting it for the many species who call it home. His demonstrated commitment to conservation in our desert region goes back decades, starting in 1986 as Regional Manager and Director of the Coachella Valley Preserve, up to today in his role as Assistant Research Ecologist for the Center for Conservation Biology, University of California Riverside.

Dr. Barrows’ work addresses conservation challenges throughout the Coachella Valley, High Desert, and local mountain regions. His research on the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard (Uma inornata) was critical to developing the first habitat conservation plan (HCP) for the Coachella Valley, which is still in effect today and serves as a model for communities throughout the world. He was the lead researcher on numerous research studies in addition to his work on the fringe-toed lizard. He is a willing and enthusiastic collaborator in his research, working alongside other university researchers regularly. He also pulls in students and community members to assist in gathering research data. Some of Dr. Barrows’ most notable research contributions include his work on the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan; DRECP – Independent Science Advisory Panel; climate change effects on flora and fauna of JTNP; and invasive species (tamarisk, Sahara mustard). In JTNP, funded under multiple grants, Dr. Barrows and JTNP staff studied the implications of climate change for the park’s desert tortoises and other selected reptiles and for the distribution of plant communities and invasive plants within the park.

Dr. Barrows has been teaching and lecturing on conservation issues for three decades. He has taught for The Living Desert, College of the Desert, California Science Teachers Association, and multiple other regional organizations. In 2018, UCR Palm Desert launched their first UC California Naturalist program, with Dr. Barrows serving as the lead instructor. He has produced over 50 peer-reviewed technical journal articles, authored five peer-reviewed book chapters, and has been cited by more than 50 authors. It is difficult to determine the number of students he has taught throughout the years, but conservatively, it is easily more than 5000.

The 2019Minerva Hoyt California Desert Conservation Award Recipient

David Lamfrom

David Lamfrom

Photo By: David Danelski

David’s impressive list of efforts make him the perfect awardee. He joined the NPCA Pacific Region staff after spending three years as a regional vice-president for an environmental consulting firm in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Prior to that, David was employed in diverse wildlife and agricultural research biology positions including experiences in the fields of aquaculture, agricultural biology and herpetology. He volunteered time and expertise as a naturalist for the Wildlife Research Team, a non-profit organization who has had tremendous success utilizing non-mechanized mangrove restoration in Biscayne Bay, Florida. As a graduate of New College of Florida, David has had the opportunity to conduct significant study in the fields of ecology, herpetology, foreign languages, Native American studies, and art.

As the director of California Desert and Wildlife Programs for NPCA, he worked on policy, legislation, media, building community, and connecting desert voices to the administration and congress. David has run campaigns to protect tens of thousands of acres of sacred desert lands from inappropriate development. He has been fortunate to work with desert communities for the past decade to designate 3 national monuments, totaling 1.8 million acres, including a new national park service unit.

In his current position, David uses his passion and knowledge of our natural, cultural and historical resources to continue to inspire others to learn about and protect our national parks. Published both as an author and wildlife photographer in several issues of Wild South magazine, David is an avid naturalist, hiker, and photographer who spends his free time exploring wildlife and wilderness.

About the Award

In 1930, Minerva Hamilton Hoyt created the International Deserts Conservation League to promote the conservation of desert lands worldwide. Her tireless efforts led directly to the establishment of Joshua Tree National Monument in 1936. She was perhaps the first great desert conservationist. The Minerva Hoyt California Desert Conservation Award recognizes annually individuals or organizations that have worked to further Mrs. Hoyt’s legacy by making notable achievements in the areas of leadership, protection, preservation, research, education, and stewardship of California’s desert lands. The award seeks to recognize an individual or persons whose efforts lead to a significant and lasting contribution on behalf of the deserts of California.

Past Winners

Year Winner
2019 David Lamfrom
2018 Robin Kobaly
2017 Pat Flanagan
2016 Cindy Zacks
2015 Nancy Karl
2014 Desert Protective Council, Terry Weiner
2013 Dee & Betty Zeller
2012 Steven & Ruth Rieman
2011 Elden E. Hughes
2010 Owens Valley Committee
2009 United States Senator Dianne Feinstein
2008 Mark Jorgenson, Superintendent of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
2007 John Wohlmuth and the Coachella Valley Association of Governments
2006 David Myers and the Wildlands Conservancy
2005 Larry & Donna Charpied
2004 Susan Luckie Reilly


Any person or group is eligible to receive the award except for Joshua Tree National Park Association (JTNPA) board of directors or staff and members of their immediate families. Non-residents of California are eligible but nominations must be for conservation accomplishments in the California deserts. Candidates must be at least 18 years old.


Nominees will have made a notable achievement on behalf of the deserts of California in one or more of the following areas:

  • Provided leadership resulting in laws, regulations, public policies, or other practices that promote improved stewardship of California desert lands and resources
  • Developed scientific research leading to improved conservation knowledge, techniques, or strategies
  • Fostered partnerships and collaborations that promote desert stewardship, or
  • Created a stronger public stewardship through education and outreach activities

Nomination and Selection Procedures

The Joshua Tree National Park Association oversees the annual nomination and selection process. Nominations will be accepted from any interested individual or organization, but self-nominations will not be considered. Joshua Tree National Park Association staff reviews all submissions for eligibility, and qualifying nominations are forwarded to the Minerva Hoyt California Desert Conservation Award selection committee.