Preserving the Desert: Minerva Hamilton Hoyt

Minerva Hamilton Hoyt
Minerva Hamilton Hoyt helped preserve California’s desert.

Have you ever visited a national park? A national park is a protected area of land. It is set aside by the government for people to enjoy. People can enjoy Joshua Tree National Park in California thanks to Minerva Hamilton Hoyt.

Hoyt was born in Durant, Mississippi, in 1866. She later moved with her husband to South Pasadena, California. She fell in love with the desert area nearby. She enjoyed exploring the beautiful land.

Soon, though, she noticed a problem. In the early 1900s, people in California wanted their yards to look like the desert. Unfortunately, many of them did this by taking cacti and other plants from the desert. By the 1920s, people had stripped much of the desert bare. Minerva Hamilton Hoyt decided she would fight to save the land and the plants she found so beautiful.

Hoyt planned an exhibit [a public show] in New York. She hoped other people would want to protect California’s deserts. She packed seven train cars with desert rocks, plants, and sand. The show helped convince many people to save the desert. Hoyt kept fighting. In 1936, the U.S. government founded Joshua Tree National Park. It is named for the beautiful, spiky, twisted Joshua trees that grow there. Hoyt’s work helped to protect nearly one million acres of California’s deserts!

What Do You Think?  Should natural spaces be protected? Why?

Photo Credit: NPS/Robb Hannawacker