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Documentary filmmaker aims to capture the beauty of Joshua trees — even as they burn to the ground

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Friday, August 11, 2023 - 11:20am
Updated: Monday, August 14, 2023 - 9:25am

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Joshua trees
Joshua Tree National Park - Flickr
Joshua trees

The Mojave Desert, full of iconic Joshua trees in Southern California, might never be the same after the massive York Fire erupted there in late July.

The wildfire was finally nearly contained just this week. It scorched close to 100,000 acres and left countless Joshua trees incinerated. The fire has most likely caused irrevocable damage to the desert ecosystem, and the lost trees may be impossible to replace in our lifetime. 

This hits especially close to home for Cindy Stillwell, a documentary filmmaker and film professor at Montana State University. Her most recent project is all about the Mohave National Preserve, where the fire began. It’s called "Mojave Dreams" and it’s still in progress — what she calls “an ode” to the Joshua tree. 

The Show spoke with her more about the project and how her love of the Mojave Desert began.

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