Death Valley National Park Wilderness Additions

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Posted by Dezdan on July 04, 2002 at 22:38:42:

In Reply to: Re: Boxer's bill, scary posted by Thom on July 04, 2002 at 21:35:13:

Managing agency: Bureau of Land Management, California Desert District

Size: Approximately 27,560 acres.

Location: North of Fort Irwin and south of Death Valley National Park, in San Bernardino County.

Description: This remote and rarely visited area is characterized by rugged mountains.

Vegetation is typical of that found in the lower central Mojave desert. Three plant communities are represented in the area: the Mojave creosote bush scrub, which is located on alluvial slopes, the black brush scrub, which is located in similar areas, and the Mojave saltbrush scrub, which is found primarily around dry lake beds.

Due to the diverse topography and vegetation, a variety of habitats allows for co-existence of many wildlife forms. Among a variety of reptiles and mammals found in this Wilderness Study Area are two protected species, the desert tortoise and desert bighorn sheep.

Precipitation varies from 3 to 8 inches per year, most occurring from December through March. Approximately 40 percent falls during the summer months, usually July and August, as locally intense storms. In winter, a short-lived blanket of snow may fall in the higher elevations.

Temperatures range from 25 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Winds can frequently exceed 30 miles per hour in most of this isolated Wilderness Study Area.

There are no permanent surface streams, creeks or wells in the study area. One permanent spring does occur. Quail Spring, along the southern edge of the Wilderness Study Area at an elevation of 4,000 feet, is used by a wide variety of birds. The major portion of water runoff, when it occurs, drains into either Owl or Lost Dry Lake.

The area is characterized by pristine deep canyons, craggy mountain tops, and unimpacted dry lake beds. Due to the vastness of the area, its isolation, and its rugged diversity of terrain, opportunities for solitude are outstanding. The diverse topography offers unique primitive recreation challenges including backpacking, hiking, and geological and ecological research and study.

The Death Valley National Park Addition was not designated as wilderness in the California Desert Protection Act based on concerns about the difficulties that might arise in connection with the policing of the Fort Irwin boundary if the adjacent national park lands were designated as wilderness. There were also concerns expressed about the potential for a future Fort Irwin expansion into the area. These issues have been resolved, clearing the way for this area to be designated as wilderness.

There are no grazing allotments or grazing leases/permits within the area. There are no plans of operations that authorize mining in the area. There are no bighorn sheep guzzlers.

The cherry-stemmed roads that lead through the potential wilderness area and into Death Valley National Park provide access to a mine and a communication tower inside the park and access to Owl Hole Springs within the potential wilderness area.

The cabin to Sheep Creek Springs on the eastern border has a cherry-stemmed road leading to it and motorized access is assured. The cabin is used by universities for their arid lands studies. The cabin is on private land.

Most of the patented lands have cherry-stemmed roads leading to them. Continued motorized access to the other private lands after wilderness designation would required a 43 CFR 2920 permit, which allows continued motorized access to the owner at the same level that was occurring at the time of designation.

The Denning Spring area is a designated Area of Critical Environmental Concern. It was designated thus for the protection of geoglyphs and rock art.

There are seven state sections within the area. Acquisition of state sections is covered under Section 707 of the California Desert Protection Area.

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