72425 Via Vail
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270



Desert Ecological Communities

Here in the Coachella Valley we have amazing ecological diversity, in fact this is considered a diversity “hot spot” of North America. With elevations from below sea level to over 10,000 feet, and with terrain from blow sand dunes to rocky granite, numerous different ecological niches support their own unique flora and fauna.

Blowsand Dunes – existing

Just a hundred years ago, 270 square miles of the Coachella Valley were blowsand. Reduced to just 50 square miles by 2000, the historic Coachella Valley Habitat Conservation Plan preserved only 5% of the original dunes.

UUCOD is located squarely in the blow sand dunes. The endangered Coachella Valley Milkvetch, one of the species that forced creation of the Habitat Conservation Plan, grows wild on our grounds. Other endangered or rare blowsand species include the fringe-toed lizard, horned lizards, and several small mammals.

We strive to preserve our little bit of blowsand. By providing just a bit of handwatering we keep our milkvetch blooming and dropping seeds every years.


Desert Canyon – Fall 2023

Desert Canyons lead from the desert floor up into the steep mountains surrounding the valley. Formed by running water, these are critical habitat for many species.

Scheduled for Fall 2023 implementation, our Desert Canyon Garden is a simulation, mimicking the habitat. With placed rocks and plantings of desert canyon species the garden provides an educational example of a desert canyon.

Desert Canyon Demonstration Garden

Desert Dry Wash – Fall 2024?

Extending out of the desert canyons on alluvial fans, the dry wash is another important ecological community. Home to species such as the desert willow and the milkweed, this is a very important habitat for birds and pollinators.

Our vision includes creating a Desert Dry Wash demonstration Garden in the retention pond.


Creosote Scrub – Fall 2024?

Another important and large desert ecological community is creosote scrub. The creosote is what gives the desert its magic smell after a rain.

The UUCOD grounds have some naturally stabilized sand that can easily be morphed into a Creosote Scrub demonstration garden.






Mesquite – Fall 2023

Once occurring in large numbers at the base of our mountains, the mesquite is a major keystone species that supports abundant life and diversity. Unfortunately, much of the development in the valley is at the base of the mountains and the mesquite has been largely removed.

In the Fall of 2023 we are planting a mesquite garden along the south boundary of the grounds. Over time this will become a haven for many species.


More Native Habitat Gardens

We can continue to add other demonstration gardens over time. One idea is a cactus garden.

Current Status

The first native habitat will be completed in Fall 2023, funded through Sacred Grounds donations. There will numerous opportunities for volunteers to join and deepen their connection to the land.

The Mesquite will also be planting in Fall of 2023, and the blowsand area is already in place.

Additional native habitat gardens will be added annually, as donations and volunteerism permit.