The Desert

Desert

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California’s Mojave, Sonoran, and Great Basin deserts are among the most pristine and unique lands in the world. From painted mountains to hidden springs, from world-famous wildflowers to majestic herds of desert bighorn sheep, Americans have long been drawn to the stark beauty of California’s desert.

Preserving Our Desert’s Wild Places and Waters

Tourism and recreation are an essential part of the desert region’s economy. The desert is also a bridge to our pioneering and homesteading roots. To this day, visitors can still follow pristine mountain streams, migrating wildlife, and historic trails for hundreds of miles, and experience a place where little has changed over thousands of years.  Local Native American tribes continue to gather and engage in traditional uses throughout the desert, just as their ancestors did hundreds and thousands of years ago.

The desert is teeming with wildlife and plant life, in large part due to the seeps and springs that dot the landscape.  Scientists have also recently discovered that the undisturbed desert is an excellent carbon sink, which is an important consideration with climate change. This unique place needs protection from encroaching urbanization, poorly-sited mining and energy projects and other unsustainable human intrusions.

Golden Valley additions. Photo by Sam Roberts

Golden Valley Wilderness, protected in 2019. Photo by Sam Roberts

The Next Bill

The Protect California Deserts campaign is composed of local, state, and national organizations that are working together to preserve public lands in Riverside and Imperial Counties. These lands represent a diversity of landscapes and a suite of important values including vital habitats for species such as the desert tortoise, chuckwalla, desert bighorn sheep, and burro deer. The largest component of this campaign’s initiative is the proposed Chuckwalla National Monument (CNM) which borders the southern edge of Joshua Tree National Park. 

The proposed monument would include the Chuckwalla Bench, an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), that is well-known among scientists for its rich biological diversity, especially its wide-ranging vegetation. This area, for example, is home to at least 158 different plant species including the endemic Munz’s cholla (endemic means that it is limited to a certain region, such as the Chuckwalla Bench). This unique 10-foot cactus is native to California and is only found at 2,300 feet elevation in the Chuckwalla and Chocolate Mountains. 

The deserts of Riverside and Imperial Counties are havens for many unique animal species as well, including the well-known desert tortoise. These highly treasured desert creatures, which were once abundant in California, are severely threatened by habitat loss and human activity. They are now listed on both the Federal and State Endangered Species Acts. The Chuckwalla Bench is one of the largest and most intact desert tortoise habitats in the region. In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) identified almost the entirety of the proposed monument as “critical habitat” for the threatened desert tortoise, meaning that the agency considers these lands essential for the conservation of a listed species. These lands are one of the last important strongholds for the desert tortoise in the California deserts; therefore, safeguarding these lands from future development is extremely important. 

Chuckwalla Box Canyon

Additionally, the arid lands in the proposed CNM provide excellent habitat for burro deer, a subspecies of mule deer found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert. The USFWS selected the lands in the proposed monument as a re-introduction site for the iconic and critically endangered Sonoran pronghorn. 

Moreover, the Chuckwalla Valley Dune Thicket ACEC, which contains remarkably dense pockets of microphyll woodlands, is also included in the proposed CNM. Microphyll woodlands are desert plant communities comprised of small-leaved trees, like ironwood, that provide important habitat for migrating birds and other amazing wildlife. In addition, these microphyll woodlands help transport water, seeds, and other nutrients throughout the desert, so they are essential to the health of many nearby ecosystems. 

Finally, the proposed CNM will provide permanent protection for popular places like Corn Springs Campground, the “Meccacopia” area, and the historic Bradshaw Trail while keeping these spaces open for outdoor recreation. These public lands offer world-renowned recreation opportunities and are essential to enhancing equitable outdoor access for local communities.  

The Protect California Deserts campaign would also:

  • Expand Joshua Tree National Park in the Eagle Mountain area pursuant to a 2016 National Park Service Boundary Study;
  • Protect WWII-era sites;
  • Call for a BLM recreational needs study, especially in the Mecca Hills/Orocopia Mountains area;
  • Honor the local work of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers; and
  • Designate and expand existing wilderness areas in Riverside County; and 
  • Designate a portion of Mission Creek in San Bernardino County as a Wild and Scenic River.

Visit the coalition’s website here

Passing the California Desert Protection and Recreation Act

In March 2019, CalWild celebrated another massive victory with Senator Feinstein when her California Desert Protection and Recreation Act (together with Representative Cook’s companion bill) was passed as part of the sprawling John. D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act. This bill helped protect 375,500 acres of new wilderness, 73 miles of new wild and scenic rivers, and builds on the Senator’s historic California Desert Protection Act, which became law in 1994. The 2019 bill also enlarged Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks by 39,835 acres and established the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area in Inyo County and the Vinagre Wash Special Management Area in Imperial County, where many ecologically sensitive areas and Native American heritage sites are located. Click here to see the places protected by this bill.

CalWild will continue to work to ensure that the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies appropriately implement the conservation aspects of this historic legislation.

Defending Our Desert National Monuments

On February 12, 2016, President Obama officially designated three national monuments in the California Desert — Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains.  This designation protected these lands from energy development, new mining claims, and other harmful development while maintaining public access for recreation activities such as camping, rockhounding, and star gazing.  They remain under threat of elimination or reduction in size due to the fact that the Administration’s national monument “review” that began in 2017 was never officially concluded.

Desert_Visitor_smalll_cropped

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP)

This BLM land use plan, which was finalized in 2016 after being in the works for almost a decade, was designed to balance renewable energy development, conservation, and recreation on public land in the desert.  BLM also used this Plan, which they are now referring to as the Desert Plan, to identify which lands in the California desert should be included in BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System.

The Desert Plan permanently designated 2.8 million acres of California Desert National Conservation lands and established actions that the BLM must take (or avoid) in order to protect the nationally significant scientific, ecological and cultural values that these lands possess.  However, under the Trump Administration, the BLM has embarked on a revision of this plan, which could result in many of the conservation aspects of the plan being gutted, which would undermine the carefully crafted balance between conservation and other uses of these desert lands.

CalWild is advocating for the BLM to move forward with implementation of the Desert Plan, while involving the same broad, multi-stakeholder approach that continues to emphasize state and local government collaboration.  We will also oppose any proposed changes to the Plan that will eliminate or reduce conservation aspects of the Plan.

Site Specific

CalWild is defending our desert public lands from multiple ongoing threats including poorly-sited energy development projects and harmful land use planning decisions (or a complete lack of land planning efforts) on the part of the BLM.

California Desert

CalWild and our allies helped:

  • pass the California Desert Protection and Recreation Act (CDPRA) in 2019;
  • finalize the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) in 2016; and
  • designate Mojave Trail, Castle Mountains, and Sand to Snow National Monuments in 2016

Partners

  • Audubon California
  • CactusToCloud Institute
  • California Native Plant Society
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Conservation Lands Foundation
  • Council of Mexican Federations in North America
  • Friends of the Desert Mountains
  • Hispanic Access Foundation
  • Mojave Desert Land Trust
  • Morongo Basin Conservation Association
  • National Parks Conservation Association
  • Native American Land Conservancy
  • Sierra Club
  • The Pew Charitable Trust
  • The Wildlands Conservancy 

News

The latest news specific to the Desert.

Get The Facts

Learn the details about the various wilderness-quality areas throughout the California Desert.

Find A Hike

Make your own adventure! Go on a hike and explore the California Desert.

Get Alerts

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Some of the areas we are working to protect

  • Location: Riverside County, north of I-10 near Blythe and the California-Arizona border
  • Size: Seven units, surrounding the existing Big Maria Mountains Wilderness, totaling approximately 17,257 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for the desert tortoise, elf owl, Gila woodpecker, gilded flicker, Yuma clapper rail, all of which are federal and/or state listed species, as well as many other species.
  • Other values: All four of the eastern units are less than a mile away from the Colorado River, which increases the probability that they possess critical ecological and cultural resources.  The Blythe intaglio site is 1.7 miles from the easternmost unit.  Important site complexes have been recorded on the flanks of the Big Marias and aboriginal trails are known to run into the mountains from both the east and west.  Portions of the western units are part of the California Desert National Conservation Lands and one of the eastern units is in an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.  The nearby Colorado River also provides water-related recreational opportunities for visitors to this area.

  • Location: Riverside County, south of I-10 and Desert Center and west of Blythe
  • Size: Six units, located to the south and east of the existing Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness, totaling approximately 59,298 acres
  • Management agency: BLM, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for a stunning array of plants and animals including desert bighorn sheep, elf owl (state endangered), and Mojave fringe-toed lizard.  The area is also critical habitat for the desert tortoise.  The flora on the Chuckwalla Bench, a part of which is located in the Proposed Additions, is one of the richest in the Colorado Desert within California, with at least 158 plant species occurring here.
  • Other values: Diverse terrain and outstanding views.  Important for scientific study; in particular, botanists’ study of Munz’s cholla.  Adjacent to the Bradshaw Trail National Backcountry Byway, a popular 4×4 trail.  Corn Springs Campground is located at the northern boundary of the existing Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness.  All of the Proposed Additions are part of the California Desert National Conservation Lands and have been designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
  • Location: In Inyo County, east of Olancha and south of Owens Lake and Highway 190
  • Size: Three units, located to the north of the existing Coso Range Wilderness, totaling approximately 14,164 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Ridgecrest Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for several endangered and threatened species including least Bell’s vireo, Mohave ground squirrel, and western snowy plover. Also Joshua tree habitat.
  • Other values: Numerous cultural resources, including petroglyphs.  All of the Proposed Additions are part of the California Desert National Conservation Lands and have been designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
  • Location: San Bernardino County, south of I-40, east of Highway 247 and west of the Newberry Mountains Wilderness
  • Size: Approximately 12,152 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Barstow Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for desert tortoise, several species of bats, Le Conte’s thrasher, Bendire’s thrasher, Mojave fringe-toed lizard, among others.  Located within critical habitat for the desert tortoise.  Nesting area for golden eagles.  Located within Mojave Monkeyflower Area of Critical Environmental Concern and Ord-Rodman Desert Wildlife Management Area.
  • Other values: provides outstanding opportunities for primitive recreation such as hiking, rock hounding, photography, bird watching, and climbing.  Hiking to the top of the ridgeline provides excellent views of the Ord Mountains and the colorful layers of rock on the ridgeline of Daggett Ridge.  The area is also located in the California Desert National Conservation Lands.
  • Hepatic tanager

    Location: Southern San Bernardino County, north of Highway 62 and west of Cadiz Road

  • Size: Approximately 35,606 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management Needles Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for desert bighorn sheep, hepatic tanager, five distinct plant communities, and wetlands.  In addition, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recognizes the area as a wildlife migration corridor.
  • Other values: Located in an area of the desert with no light pollution, making it an excellent location for stargazing.  Also located in the California Desert National Conservation Lands.
  • Mojave fringe-toed lizard

    Location: San Bernardino County, north of Highway 15 and west of Highway 127 near Baker

  • Size: Approximately 6,631 acres adjacent to the southern boundary of the existing Hollow Hills Wilderness
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Needles Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for several threatened imperiled species including desert tortoise, Mojave fringe-toed lizard, yellow-breasted chat and vermilion flycatcher.  Critical habitat for the desert tortoise. California Department of Fish and Wildlife has recognized the area as being within a wildlife migration corridor.
  • Other values: Scenic backdrop for I-15 and Highway 127.  Located in the California Desert National Conservation Lands and an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
  • Location: Riverside County, south of I-10 between the existing Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness and Little Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness
  • Size: Approximately 14,058 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office
  • Ecological values: Designated critical habitat for the desert tortoise.  Habitat for six different plant communities.  Recognized by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as a wildlife migration corridor.  Washes in the area contain ecologically important ironwood groves that teem with songbirds.
  • Other values: Outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive forms of recreation.  Most of the Proposed Additions are located in an Area of Critical Environmental Concern and all of the Proposed Additions are located in California Desert National Conservation Lands.
  • Location: Riverside County, south of I-10 and the Bradshaw Trail National Backcountry Byway, and west of the Colorado River
  • Size: Approximately 8,391 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, South Coast-Palm Springs Field Office
  • Ecological values: habitat for a good number of species that are vulnerable to, and could easily become threatened or endangered including burrowing owl, Crissal thrasher, pallid bat, and Mojave fringe-toed lizard.  The area is also in critical habitat for the threatened desert tortoise.  The washes in the area hold extensive woodland thickets which are a haven for songbirds and other species.
  • Other values: The Mule Mountains hold significant cultural importance to the Mojave and Quechan tribes.  The area holds numerous cultural resources, paleontological resources (e.g., Pleistocene-age fossils) and historic resources (e.g., mining era and WWII).  Located adjacent to the Bradshaw Trail National Backcountry Byway, a popular 4×4 trail.  Located in the California Desert National Conservation Lands and an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
  • Location: San Bernardino County, south of I-40 and east of Barstow.
  • Size: Six units, on all sides of the existing Newberry Mountains Wilderness, totaling approximately 5,571 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Barstow Field Office
  • Ecological values: Critical habitat for the desert tortoise.  The area contains eight distinct plant communities and is recognized by California Department of Fish and Wildlife as a wildlife migration corridor.  An unusual plant assemblage (UPA) can be found in the Proposed Addition abutting the southern Newberry Mountains Wilderness.  The Johnson Valley/Lucerne Valley Creosote Bush Clone UPA holds Creosote Bush Rings that may be the oldest known living plants in the California desert; estimates place them between 11,000 and 12,000 years old.
  • Other values: Scenic views of rugged volcanic mountains, incised drainages, and multicolored sedimentary rock escarpments in the Wilderness.  Located in the California Desert National Conservation Lands and an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

  • Location: Riverside County, south of I-10 and Chiriaco Summit
  • Size: Four units on the north, west, and east boundaries of the existing Orocopia Mountains Wilderness, totaling approximately 21,438 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for desert bighorn sheep, triple-ribbed milk-vetch (federal endangered), Emory’s crucifixion-thorn, and many other species.  Also critical habitat for the desert tortoise.  CDFW recognizes the area as a wildlife migration corridor.
  • Other values: Five new fossilized species of ancient marine mollusks were discovered here. The area is in the California Desert National Conservation Lands and Designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.  The Bradshaw Trail, a popular 4×4 trail, runs along the southern boundary of one of the units.

  • Location: Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, west of the Colorado River, north of I-10, and north/northwest of Blythe
  • Size: Approximately 23,804 acres, comprised of four units all adjoining the northern and eastern sides of the existing Palen-McCoy Wilderness
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for a good number of species including the California leaf-nosed bat, pallid bat, desert bighorn sheep, Emory’s crucifixion-thorn, and the threatened desert tortoise.  The Proposed Additions are also located within a wildlife migration corridor recognized by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Other values: The northern unit lies near Camp Granite, one of the division camps used by General Patton to train American troops for battle in North Africa in World War II.  Two of the eastern units flank Palen Pass Road.  Palen Pass was the site of the largest maneuvers during the life of the Desert Training Center (WWII training center that spanned California, Arizona and a small portion of Nevada).  The army built fortifications consisting of gun emplacements, barbed-wire entanglements, bunkers, minefields, foxholes.  Several maneuvers were also held in the area.  Vestiges of the Army’s training in the area remain today for visitors to explore.  All of the Proposed Additions are located in an Area of Critical Environmental Concern and almost all are also located in the California Desert National Conservation Lands.
  • Desert lily

  • Location: San Bernardino County, north of I-10 east of Highway 177 and Joshua Tree National Park
  • Size: Approximately 16,020 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for several threatened and sensitive species including desert tortoise, desert bighorn sheep, golden eagle, and burrowing owl.  Area has wetlands, seven distinct plant communities as is in a wildlife migration corridor (recognized by California Department of Fish and Wildlife).
  • Other values: Cultural resources, including ancient trails, possible village sites, and other signs of centuries of human use.  Historically significant (used by General Patton for training troops to fight in North Africa in World War II.  Part of the California Desert National Conservation Lands and overlaps with the Desert Lily Sanctuary Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

Desert bighorn sheep – photo by David Lamfrom

  • Location: San Bernardino County, 3.4 miles southeast of Twentynine Palms, south of Highway 62 and north of the existing Pinto Mountains Wilderness and Joshua Tree National Park
  • Size: Approximately 28,820 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Barstow Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for desert bighorn sheep and 11 distinct plant communities.  Also critical habitat for the desert tortoise.
  • Other values: A significant amount of the Proposed Additions are part of the California Desert National Conservation Lands.

  • Location: Riverside and San Bernardino County, to the immediate west of Highway 95 and the Colorado River, south of Vidal, and west of Parker, AZ
  • Size: Approximately 5,357 acres located adjacent to the northeastern boundary of the existing Riverside Mountains Wilderness
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Palm Springs-South Coast and Needles Field Offices
  • Ecological values: Habitat for numerous species including the following state endangered species:  western yellow-billed cuckoo, elf owl, Gila woodpecker, gilded flicker.  Also habitat for the federally endangered desert tortoise.  The area also has eight distinct plant communities.
  • Other values: Its close proximity to the Colorado River increases the likelihood that the area holds significant cultural resources.  The nearby Colorado River also provides water-related recreational opportunities for visitors to this area.  Much of the Proposed Additions is located within an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

  • Location: San Bernardino County, south of I-40 and south-southeast of Newbury Springs
  • Size: Six units on all sides of the existing Rodman Mountains Wilderness, totaling approximately 18,395 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Barstow Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for threatened and imperiled species such as desert bighorn sheep and golden eagle, as well as nine distinct plant communities.  Also critical habitat for desert tortoise.  California Department of Fish and Wildlife recognizes that the area lies within a wildlife migration corridor.
  • Other values: Cultural resources, including petroglyphs.  The Proposed Additions are located completely with an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.  There is also some overlap with California Desert National Conservation Lands.

  • Location: Inyo County, east of Highway 395, south of Haiwee Reservoir and north of Coso Junction
  • Size: Approximately 21,840 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Ridgecrest Field Office
  • Ecological values: Extensive Mohave ground squirrel habitat due to vegetation type and loose soils.  Raptors are also present because of the many rock outcrops that allow them to perch above the flats. Suitable raptor nesting sites occur in the nooks and crannies of the boulder jumbles. Valuable Joshua tree woodland habitat used by loggerhead shrikes, ladder-backed woodpeckers, cactus wrens, and dozens of other bird species – both residents and migrants. The boulder habitat and abandoned features are also used by a variety of bat species, including pallid bats.
  • Other values: Outstanding volcanic displays, large outcroppings of obsidian, and evidence of Paiute Indian habitation. The area is rich in cultural resources. In many places, the ground is covered with lithic scatter. Ayers Rock, a rare pictograph site, is located here. Exceptional scenic values – hills studded with impressive rock outcrops comprised of massive granite blocks, robust stands of Joshua; stark and dramatic mountains; dark, nearly vertical walls and vivid spaces of color.  A significant portion of this area is in California Desert National Conservation Lands and an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

Photo courtesy of Tom Budlong

  • Location: Inyo County, north/northeast of Trona and the Searles Valley, north of China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, east of Trona Wildrose Road, and west of Death Valley National Park
  • Size: Approximately 81,554 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Ridgecrest Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for the endangered Inyo California Towhee.  Located within a Mohave Ground Squirrel Conservation Area.  Habitat for many other species including Nelson’s desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, Mohave ground squirrel, and Joshua trees.  Abandoned and historic mines provide habitat for numerous bats, including Townsend’s big-eared bats.  Ephemeral wetlands and perennial pools at springs with endemic fairy shrimp.  Mesquite bosques and freshwater and saltwater marshes.  Contains an important wildlife corridor.
  • Other values: Significant cultural, historic (mining) resources and possible paleontological resources.  Located in the California Desert National Conservation Lands and an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

  • Location: San Bernardino County, north of Highway 62 and the Colorado River Aqueduct and north-northwest of Parker
  • Size: Four units abutting the east, west and southern boundaries of the existing Turtle Mountains Wilderness, totaling approximately 87,840 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Needles Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for a number of species, including, desert bighorn sheep, Mojave fringe-toed lizard, Le Conte’s thrasher, burrowing owl, and 11 distinct plant communities, including Emory’s crucifixion-thorn.  Three of the four units of the Proposed Additions are located within critical habitat for the desert tortoise.  The area also lies within a wildlife migration corridor.
  • Other values: Two western units of the Proposed Additions are in the Ward Valley, a valley of great importance and sacredness to local Tribes.  The area is also part of an important cultural landscape that spans much of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts in California and includes the Salt Song Trail, a trail that has been used by Native Americans for spiritual renewal and healing since prior to European contact.  Unique rock formations of the Mopah Range, including spires, pinnacles, mesas, and buttes.  Much of the Proposed Additions is in California Desert National Conservation Lands and all of them are in an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • Location: San Bernardino County, north of Highway 62 and west of the Colorado River
  • Size: 11 units, located on the northwest, west, and southern boundaries of the existing Whipple Mountains Wilderness, totaling approximately 103,670 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Needles Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for the following state and/or federally listed threatened or endangered species:  Gila woodpecker, bald eagle, Yuma clapper rail, gilded flicker, western yellow-billed cuckoo, elf owl, Arizona bell’s vireo, desert tortoise, California rail.  The area also provides superior nesting and foraging habitat for a number of raptors such as golden eagles and Cooper’s hawks.  Nine units of the Proposed Additions lie within critical habitat for the desert tortoise.  The area is also located within a wildlife migration corridor, as determined by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • Other values: Some of the Proposed Additions encompass some of the Chemehuevi Valley and the Colorado River, places important to several Southern Paiute tribes.  Ethnographic accounts tell of trails, including The Salt Song Trail, that went along the Colorado and through the Chemehevi Valley in this area.  Ethnographies also suggest as many as four trails traversed these lands and went directly through the Whipple Mountains from the Turtle Mountains to the Colorado River.  Much of the Proposed Additions is in California Desert National Conservation Lands and an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.  The nearby Colorado River also provides water-related recreational opportunities for visitors to this area.

  • Location: Inyo County, in the Panamint Valley, to the west of Surprise Canyon Wilderness, about 25 miles north of Trona
  • Size: Approximately 20,238 acres
  • Management agency: Bureau of Land Management, Ridgecrest Field Office
  • Ecological values: Habitat for a number of species including desert bighorn sheep, California towhee, Townsend’s big-eared bat, and Panamint alligator lizard.  Also habitat for ten distinct plant communities, including Mojave Riparian Forest and Mesquite Bosque.  About a sixth of the area is riparian habitat (i.e., a desert marsh).
  • Other values: This area and the entirety of the Panamint Valley, are the traditional homelands of the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, who have inhabited the area for millennia.  The southern unit holds Warm Sulfur Springs Area of Critical Environmental Concern.  Sites in this area may be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places as districts, trail systems, or individual sites under the National Register Criteria.  Also located in California Desert National Conservation Lands.
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