Meet Paisley Ramstead, a biologist on a mission to make snake identification a community affair

Palm Springs Profiles introduces you to people in our community who are making a difference but don’t often make the headlines. This month we invite you to meet a key member of the Oswit Land Trust team.

Paisley Ramstead was the first staff member of Oswit Land Trust, founded as Save Oswit Canyon in 2016 by Jane Garrison. The organization has grown to take on an important role in our community, helping to preserve thousands of acres, including the recently announced Prescott Preserve.

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As a life-long desert resident and a biologist, Paisley’s passion for and knowledge of the ecosystem is contagious. After noticing a need for proper snake identification online, she endeavored to share educational tools, information, and the joys of co-existing with biodiversity with her community.

Since 2020, she provides access to proper snake identification (and shares in the excitement of responsible snake sightings) through her Palm Springs Reptile Appreciation group on Facebook.

Some of her most recent efforts have culminated around the launch of Palm Springs Snake Club, which can be found on Instagram as @palmspringssnakeclub.

Get to know Paisley below.

NAME: Paisley Ramstead

AGE: 32

OCCUPATION: Staff Biologist and Executive Assistant at Oswit Land Trust


HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN THE DESERT? My whole life; my family moved here before I was a year old. So like 31 and a half years.

WHAT KEEPS YOU HERE? I love the desert. I think it’s really cool how we live in such a neat biodiversity hotspot, and to work to help us conserve that and to protect the place I grew up in that made me love biodiversity in the first place — it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else.

DO YOU HAVE FAMILY HERE? I don’t — anymore. The rest of my family has moved to cooler and damper climates.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR IN THE DESERT? Spring; it’s when all the snakes start to come back out. If we’ve had good rainfall in the winter, we have amazing wildflowers.

HOW DO YOU BEAT THE HEAT? In the summer, I sort of take after the snakes a bit and become more nocturnal. I do more after-dark sight-seeing and stay inside during the day.

DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY BY WHICH YOU LIVE? Yes. For me, this is a quote from 1997’s Men in Black: “Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.” It was Agent K’s speech to Agent J that convinced him to join the Men in Black. When things are difficult, confusing, or hard, there’s always something new you can learn.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT? El Salvador Cafe is my go-to comfort food staple. Their pupusas are — I’d eat them anytime, any place. In the summer they do a great vegan ceviche with jicama. And their agua fresca — I wish I had it on tap.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST ISSUE FACING OUR COMMUNITY? For me, as a conservationist and ecologist, I think the dismissal that we’re part of the desert landscape gets us into trouble – we don’t prioritize conserving water, and instead we prioritize things like tourism. There’s a big part of me that’s also into social justice, which I believe is entwined with climate justice.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO OR PLACE TO GO IN THE DESERT? I’m a little biased and I love Oswit Canyon – it’s neat to go and think, “we saved this place.” I also love Whitewater, the Indian Canyons, any riparian community. It’s where you find the highest diversity of wildlife.

WHAT’S YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE? The tamarind margaritas at El Patio. If I’m having a bad day, my boyfriend’s like, “Are we going to El Patio tonight?”

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