The Mojave Desert attracts millions of visitors every year. Its geological features are unique in the world, with the symmetrical volcanic cinder cones, lava flows and lava tubes of Pisgah and Amboy craters among the best representations of their kind. The solitude and beauty found in its unspoiled landscapes resonates in a deeply personal way for every individual, but it has another very special significance to casual collecting hobbyists, also known as rockhounds. Since the mid-19th century, when they were called prospectors, to the present day, rockhounds have come to California’s deserts in search of collectable minerals. The thrill of discovering, carving, and displaying a self-collected rock or crystal is a rockhound’s idea of heaven, and the Mojave Desert is world-renowned for the quality and variety of materials found there – feldspar crystals, fluorites, geodes, obsidian, opalites, petrified reeds and palm root, and quartz varieties, including beautifully colored and patterned agates and jaspers. This presentation showcases some of the Mojave’s collectable minerals and historical desert localities where they are found. An overview is also presented on the changing landscape of land use policy that increasingly threatens to curtail access and accommodation of rockhounding and other low-impact recreational activities.
Lisbet Thoresen is a rockhound advocate of preserving recreational opportunities for casual amateur collecting, or rockhounding, on public lands. Since 2014, she has worked on public awareness campaigns on land use policies that increasingly threaten access to collecting areas or accommodation of hobby collecting on federally managed lands, primarily in Southern California’s deserts. A key consideration in her efforts is to engage in constructive dialogue with other stakeholder groups over balancing conservation and cultural values with acceptable uses. She is currently public lands representative for San Diego Mineral & Gem Society, Inc. (SDMG) and Chair of the Public Lands Advisory Committee (PLAC) – South, for the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Inc. (CFMS). With 770 members, SDMG is the largest among 110 member societies of CFMS, which in turn, is one of seven regional affiliates of the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Inc. (AFMS). In aggregate, AFMS represents about 51,000 members nationwide. In addition to her advocacy on behalf of rockhounds, Lisbet is a graphic artist and independent scholar specialized in gem archaeology of the ancient Classical world. Previously, from 1983 to 2000, she was a conservator of Greek and Roman antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu and Los Angeles.
Bring your lunch, bring your friends, or just bring yourself to our Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series once a month. Speakers will present topics of special interest for high desert residents. The lectures start at 12:00 p.m. Admission is $ 5 or free for Museum Members/Sponsors. Beverages will be served.