The Nature Conservancy
worked with partners to create this 800-acre preserve in 2011 to protect one of the planet’s largest remaining populations of the dwarf bear poppy on private land, as well as to preserve habitat for a range of other Mojave Desert species. Join us on this tour to learn more about the dwarf bear poppy and other flora and fauna of the White Dome Nature Preserve
! This tour is a relatively easy loop trail that will take you about an hour. Also, please stay on the marked trails. This landscape is fragile. Your footsteps can cause damage that takes decades to recover.
The Nature Conservancy acknowledges, with respect, that the lands you are visiting are the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Shivwits Band of the Paiute. We recognize the Indigenous peoples as original stewards of this land and all the relatives within it.
You’re going to meet one of this land’s special inhabitants today. A delicate and stunning beauty. It’s the dwarf bear poppy
)—a rare and endangered flower that grows here in Washington County and nowhere else on Earth. It’s also a species fighting to avoid extinction. The dwarf bear poppy has lost more than 50 percent of its historic habitat due to human impacts. We’ll learn more about this on our walk. This preserve also protects some of the last remaining populations of the threatened Siler pincushion cactus
). These cacti do not grow near the trails and are more difficult to spot.
The landscape at the White Dome Nature Preserve is known as badlands
. Badlands are sparsely vegetated, low rolling hills and bluff. Despite looking “barren,” what you see is actually a healthy landscape.
These badlands mark where the northeastern edge of the Mojave Desert ecosystem meets the sedimentary strata of the Colorado Plateau. Look at the unique shapes of this landscape. For millions of years, wind and water have sculpted these rocks.
If you look closely at the ground, you will also see the craggy carpet of various colors and textures covering the soil. This is biocrust
—it’s very much alive—and it is nothing short of amazing. Biocrusts can be made up of many different microscopic organisms that help bind soil particles together. You might also see mosses and many different colorful lichens. As some soil scientists explain: biocrusts are like very tiny diverse forests. Biocrusts are important because they stabilize the soils, boost the fertility of the soil, and retain moisture (which is particularly important here because there is so little rain)! In short, if a region’s biocrust is healthy, it benefits the health of that region’s plants, wildlife and people.
In one sense, biocrust is surprisingly tough. Its organic super grip stands up to desert wind and rain. Yet biocrusts are also vulnerable, and worldwide, they are increasingly in trouble. That’s because once damaged, the delicate crust can take hundreds of years to recover. But now another worrisome threat has emerged: climate change. Recent studies warn that increasing temperatures could damage biocrusts around the world. None of us who live here in arid lands, including people, plants and animals, can afford to lose biocrusts.
Take this tour to learn more about badlands, biocrust, the dwarf bear poppy, and other plants and animals that call White Dome Nature Preserve home. Tour SponsorsSince 1984, The Nature Conservancy Utah has worked to safeguard more than 1 million acres across Utah and the plants and animals that live there. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a leading conservationorganization working in Utah and worldwide to protect the land and water on which all life depends. The Conservancy has protected nearly 1 million acres of public and private land in Utah–for people and nature. From the shores of the Great Salt Lake to the red rock canyonsof the Colorado Plateau, their accomplishments demonstrate that conservation is crucial to making Utah such an incredible place to live, work, and play. Find More Tours Near You If you are interested in more audio tours presented by The UtahNature Conservancy, check out the Scott and Norma Matheson Wetlands Preserve and the Great Salt Lake Shorelands. In addition, you can find many other tours in Utah or wherever your travels may take you at TravelStorys.com. Every place has a story. Este tour también está disponible en español. Toque el botón de abajo para ver ambas versiones del recorrido. (Tour available in Spanish)