The Western Sierra foothills aren't desert. They get reasonable moisture, are brush and forrest covered, with streams and rivers flowing through them. Once you get to the Pacific Crest you then move from the forested hills and mountains to the desert which extends in several forms (alpine desert, dry lake valleys, sage and bitter brush range until you get to the Great Basin where you will find the Salt Flats of the Great Salt Lake and the fantastic canyon lands, Bryce, Zion, Canyon Lands, The Grand Canyon and many others. This interior area (ringed by the Rockies and the Coastal Range) is where you will find the deserts. It is the mountains that squeeze the moisture out of the clouds in their easterly procession that create the dry conditions the deserts endure.
Crack a book dv, better yet, go up around Clear lake and tell me about the desert. The desert is further south and on the easten Sierra, it's called "Basin and Range" there's a book and everything.
But it is hers and she will take care of it if humans don't , only thing is, when she does it sometimes it ain't pretty. Ma nature can be steered by human activity to a degree though if allowed.
The Jackson area is rolling hills covered in oak trees, near the mountains it mixes with pine. Acres of dry grass, steep hills around a Hwy 88 a narrow 2 lane road. If you have to get out in a hurry, you're screwed. Always think of fire danger when/if you decide to buy in the hills.