The head of the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard is perfectly shaped for diving head first into soft, windblown sands. If a predator threatens or surface temperatures become too great, the lizard heads underground and shimmies beneath the sand a few centimeters before coming to rest out of sight. But urban sprawl, agriculture, and off-road vehicle use are taking a toll on the fringe-toed lizard's habitat, leaving it with less and less protective cover.

Through our successful efforts in protecting California's deserts and rich biodiversity, the Center has also won significant habitat protections for the Coachella Valley fringed-toed lizard. In 2003, as a result of Center involvement, plans to build an upscale 7,000-home and golf-course development were cancelled. This stunning victory helped to keep suburban sprawl off nearly 9,000 acres of Sonoran desert next to Joshua Tree National Park.

And in 2007, the Center and Sierra Club filed a suit challenging a controversial annexation project threatening to bring more residential sprawl to Riverside County; the annexation would allow construction of a luxury resort on recognized conservation lands near Joshua Tree National Park.