September 2007 Desert Report, CNCC Desert Committee


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September 2007 Desert Report, CNCC Desert Committee

  1. 1. September 2007 News of the desert from Sierra Club California/Nevada Desert Committee B Y 
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 R A S C H K O W A PERSONAL ACCOUNT Protection of Historic & Cultural Resources“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United and development in order to give a sense of orientation to the States of America in Congress assembled, That any person who shall American people” and that “…preservation of this irreplaceable appropriate, excavate, injure, or destroy any historic or prehistoric ruin heritage is in the public interest.” Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (as or monument, or any object of antiquity, situated on lands owned or amended) requires that Federal agencies take into account the controlled by the Government of the United States, without the per- effect of undertakings or authorized actions on “any district, site, mission of the Secretary of the Department of the Government having building, structure, or object that is included in or eligible for jurisdiction over the lands on which said antiquities are situated, shall, inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places*.” This sec- upon conviction, be fined in a sum of not more than five hundred dol- tion, supported by the words of President Nixon in Executive lars or be imprisoned for a period of not more than ninety days, or shall Order (EO) 11593, essentially gave birth to the federal cultural suffer both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.” resources preservation program as we know it today and created [Quoted from the Antiquities Act of 1906] job opportunities for archaeologists within the federal govern- ment. Section 106 can be thought of as the “watchdog” part ofT he Antiquities Act, the first law designed to protect my job – assessing and managing the effects of federal undertak- archaeological sites on public (federal) lands and continued on page 18 establish penalties for damage to archaeological sites, was signed by President Roosevelt in June, 1906. It also authorized the President to protect landmarks, structures, and objects of historic or scientific interest by desig- nating them as National Monuments. Section 3 of the Act pro- vided a means for the federal government to issue permits and encourage scientific study of archaeological sites. Passage of the Antiquities Act took 25 years of concerted effort from a variety of individuals and organizations. Spurred by concern for loss of cultural resources to development and urban renewal programs, these basic protections were refined and expanded by a series of Laws and Executive Orders (EO) includ- ing the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA). Before the NHPA was in effect, during my youth in Montana, I saw wonderful historic buildings removed in the name of ‘renew- al’. On family trips I saw ghost towns and buffalo jumps – many of which were eventually also damaged or destroyed. Congress declared in the National Historic Preservation Act Jack Miller Cabin, built around 1930 in the Santa Rosa (NHPA) that “the historical and cultural foundations of the Mountain, listed today on the National Register of Historic Nation should be preserved as a living part of our community life Places
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 DEUTSCHE FROM THE EDITOR Desert HistoryT his issue of the Desert Report focuses on the h i s t o ry and pre h i s t o ry of Californ i a ’s deserts. SEPTEMBER 2007 IN THIS ISSUE While previous articles have often highlighted controversial issues, the topic here carries a clear Protection of Historic & Cultural Resources.............................................. 1consensus: artifacts and history in the desert are valuable and deserve From The Editor: Desert History ................................................................ 2protection. As this is true, then two questions come to mind: (1) Historical Resources in the California Desert .......................................... 3Why is it so difficult to get information about the location of China Lake NAWS Good Steward Of Material Culture .............................. 4archeological sites, and (2) why should we, the public, care about Three Desert Museums ............................................................................ 6these sites that we seldom, if ever, visit? Desert Societies, Then And Now .............................................................. 8 As a result of unfortunate past experiences with pot hunters Current Issues ..........................................................................................11and vandalism it has become the policy of the agencies which Grazing: The Essential Range Management Tool ......................................12administer public lands that the locations of petroglyphs and Tejon Ranch: A New State Or Federal Park? ............................................14archeological sites should not be provided to the public unlessthis information has already been published in a reasonably Deterring ORV Use & Lessening its Impacts ............................................16accessible form. The preservation of these resources takes prece- Mesquite: The Desert’s Tree Of Life ..........................................................19dence over public access. The State of California keeps a register Outings ......................................................................................................20of archeological and historic resources that is consulted whenev-er a proposed project has potential for damaging these sites. It issignificant that this register is only available to persons holding LOOK IT UPat least a master’s degree in archeology. Furthermore, these In addition to providing background articles on desert landscapes andrecords can not be accessed through the Freedom of Information issues, in the column titled “Current Issues” the Desert Report alsoAct, even though this act provides for the release of public attempts to report on new developments. While the printed copies of therecords of many other kinds. While this lack of public informa- Desert Report appear quarterly, the “News Updates” column which appearstion is sometimes a disappointment, it is also true that many sites on-line is revised as issues emerge. It is hoped that this on-line column willare well known or are listed on the internet. Many of these are become a desert bulletin-board to consult for information about recentprovided with extensive interpretive information. There are also court and land agency decisions, public hearings, and for short news itemsdesert museums which present information on desert history and that are important but not widely reported. Because there can be a largeprehistory for all of us to appreciate. number of these items, this on-line column will begin with a listing of the The second and more significant question is, “Why should we topics that follow. The on-line Desert Report can be found at:care for and about these artifacts and sites if we rarely see them?” course professional archeologists value the materials and wish It is, of course, not possible to include all the relevant topics in either theto preserve them for study, but most of us who are curious are not “Current Issues” section of the printed Desert Report or in the on-lineprofessional archeologists. The answer I personally give to the “News Updates.” For information on other subjects, the column headedquestion is this: “These records from our past provide a perspective “COORDINATORS” on the final printed page has been revised. Issuesupon our own civilization and culture that we badly need.” and persons knowledgeable on particular issues are listed there with The peoples which are described in the article by Jay von contact information. This listing will be kept current with the intention thatWerlhof existed for thousands of years and they were eminently it should also be a resource for persons interested in conservation issuesself-sustainable. This is a claim that we, today, can not yet make. in the desert.The mining artifacts that are described in the article by MarthaDickes are a testimony to astonishing efforts and hardships thatfew people today would consider undertaking. The rock art DESERT COMMITTEE MEETINGSwhich Russ Kaldenberg describes on the China Lake Naval The site for the November meeting will be in Anza-Borrego Desert StateWeapons Station was made over a span of at least 10,000 years Park, and the February meeting will be held jointly with the CNRCCunder extreme desert conditions. When we look at these records Wilderness Committee in Shoshone, CA. We especially encourage localfrom our past it can only be a humbling experience. citizens in the area to attend, as many of the items on the agenda include Enjoy this collection of articles and as you read them local issues. Contact Tom Budlong at (310-476-1731), tombudlong@consider their lessons., to be put on the invitation list. { 2} DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007
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 D I CK ES A WILDERNESS PERSPECTIVE Historical Resources in the California DesertT he California desert was prospected heavily from ers, early gasoline-powered engines, cabins, tramways, adits, and the 1850’s onwards. Ores were highgraded by other relicts and artifacts. hardrock miners, and boomtowns flourished in the The California Desert Protection Act (CDPA) of 1994 estab- most remote and inaccessible places imaginable. lishing wilderness in the Inyo Mountains recognized the value ofWhen the ores gave out, the places were abandoned and all but these extraordinary historical resources. In Section 2(c),forgotten. Today many of these places reside within federally- Congress declared that these lands were to be included in thedesignated wilderness. There the ruins and artifacts from more National Wilderness Preservation System as wilderness, but alsothan 100 years ago survive out of reach of the casual visitor and to “protect and preserve historical and cultural values of thelargely intact. This poses a challenge for wilderness management. California desert associated with ancient Indian cultures, patternsHow best to preserve the past while allowing for recreational of western exploration and settlement, and sites exemplifying theuse? In Ridgecrest, the BLM has been struggling with this ques- mining, ranching, and railroading history of the Old West.”tion in several wildernesses for many years now, but in no area so Administering agencies were to “provide opportunities for com-keenly as in the Inyo Mountains Wilderness. patible outdoor public recreation, protect and interpret ecologi- The Inyo Mountains Wilderness is managed by two agencies cal and geological features, and historic, paleontological, andand within the BLM by two field offices. The Bishop Field Office archeological sites, maintain wilderness resource values, and pro-manages the west side of the crest; the Ridgecrest Field Office mote public understanding and appreciation of the Californiathe east side of the crest. Inyo National Forest manages upper desert.” (Section 2(d) of the CDPA).elevations at the north end of the wilderness area. Silver was dis- The wilderness staff in Ridgecrest has been mapping, photo-covered at Cerro Gordo in the Inyo Mountains in 1865. The dis- graphing, and monitoring trails, sites, and artifacts associatedcovery of gold soon followed, most notably in Keynot Canyon. with the Beveridge Mining District for over 15 years. In that timeThe Beveridge Mining District that eventually formed in 1877 is continued on page 10managed by the Ridgecrest Resource Area. Itencompasses 40 mines east of the crest, morethan half-a-dozen millsites, and a ghost town,all located along eastside streams in precipi-tous terrain. The district runs roughly fromCraig Canyon (north of Cerro Gordo) north-ward to “Cougar” Canyon where it lapsesinto Inyo National Forest. At its height, the District supported 60-odd souls, a post office, a store, and even apolling place. More than 40 miles of loosely-connected trails cross virtually every historicmining site in the district. These are 19thcentury trails built by miners and mule pack-ers to resupply mines in the Inyo Mountainsand to carry ore from mine to millsite and outto markets in the Owens Valley. Abandonedby miners in the 1930’s, the trails lay largelyforgotten until they were rediscovered andpopularized by backpackers in the late 1980’s.Today they access a virtual outdoor museumof 19th and early 20th century mining histo-ry, complete with arrastras, stamp mills, boil- Cabin Foundation – Inyo Mountains Wilderness DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007 { 3}
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 K AL DEN B ERG ONE MILLION ACRE MUSEUM China Lake NAWS Good Steward Of Material CultureC hina Lake Naval Air Petroglyphs, Sugarloaf Obsidian in North Weapons Station (NAWS) Range outside of Ridgecrest, The North Range has seen more study California, encompasses the than the South Range. There are two rea-Mojave Desert in its South Range and the sons for this. One is that the North Rangesouthernmost portion of the Great Basin in boasts tens of thousands of petroglyphs thatits North Range. At 1.1 million acres, have been noted since the 1920s and studiedChina Lake is not only the largest Navy for the past eight decades. New petroglyphsland range in the United States, but it is also are found continually as China Lake staffrich with cultural resources that span more work with researchers and contract environ-than 10,000 years. Over a thirty-year mental specialists to continue to documentperiod, approximately 12 percent of its two this rich heritage.ranges have been systematically invento- Also, the well-known Sugarloaf Obsidianried, documenting over 12,000 sites, averaging an archaeological quarry is located in this range. The obsidian traveled via exten-site every ten acres. The Department of Defense serves as an out- sive trade networks across most of the Great Basin, into the Sanstanding steward, preserving and protecting cultural resources Joaquin Valley, out to the Channel Islands, and down to Bajawhile taking care of NAWS basic mission of technology develop- California. Sugarloaf Mountain is a massive and importantment and protecting the nation. resource where native peoples called parts of NAWS home until Several playas dominate the landscape. These include Lake 1943. Today, though agreements with tribes and traditional fam-China, the drainage of Lake Searles, Airport Lake, Superior ilies, the descendants return regularly to use Coso Hot SpringsValley Lake, and many ephemeral lakes. These lakes are what for religious purposes, harvest obsidian to teach stone tool man-famed archaeologist Dr. Emma Lou Davis called “paleogrocerystores.” Their shorelines contained marshes, which attracted ani-mals, which attracted people. The remains of 10,000-year-oldartifacts and fossils of animals as varied as elephants, bison,g round sloth, camels, deer, and antelope can be found.Paleontologists from the San Bernardino County Museum haverecently conducted a study identifying important locales plusidentifying places where gastropods are abundant (indicatingfresh water springs). Recent radio carbon dates on shellfish seemto average 11,000 years before the present. This is well within thetime span for the peopling of the Americas. Names of springs include Lead Pipe Spring, Shady MyrickSprings, Lead Springs, Pothunter Springs, Hidden Springs,Layton Spring, Seep Springs, Bandit Springs, Stone CorralSprings, PK (or Pilot Springs). All of these springs are associatedwith the rich mining history of the desert. Springs were alsomagnets for prehistoric settlement, where archaeological sitescan be found. Many of the sites are in very good shape, as if pre-historic peoples or 19th century miners had recently left. Top: Petroglyph at Birchram Spring, North Range; Above: Epsom Salt Monorail Braces near Wingate Pass, South Range { 4} DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007
  5. 5. ufacturing, pick pine nuts, and provide the Navy with informa- supported research.tion that assists in managing the resources so that they persist China Lake supplements its single archaeologist with a groupinto the future. by the name of the Friends of China Lake Archaeology, which was formed in 2004 to assist in inventorying the base, managingPictographs, geoglyphs, and the Old West the Archaeological Laboratory and Curation Facility, and in doc- While petroglyphs are the most common form of rock art on umenting the rock art. This Friends group was integral in bring-the North Range, the South Range contains beautiful pic- ing the Secre t a ry of Defense’s National Cultural Resourc etographs (painted art) and dozens of geoglyphs (rock alignments) Management Award to China Lake last year. China Lake proud-that are regularly noted. ly flies the Green Environmental Steward Flag associated with The South Range is dominated by creosote bushes with scat- that award. China Lake also received Governortered Joshua Tree forests and willows and desert olive at springs. Schwarzenegger’s Historic Preservation Award for developingWhile water is scarce in the Mojave Desert, springs readily flow the Curation Facility from the Old Ice House.throughout the mountainous terrain on the South Range provid- Management through focused stewardship involves everyoneing a rich habitat for Bighorn sheep. Names of the mountain in the chain from the Commanding Officer to the beginningranges connote the Old West—Eagle Crags, Robbers Mountain, employee. “The China Lake way” involves offering ownership toPilot Knob, Brown Mountain, Wingate Pass, Layton Pass, all those who work or visit the Station. It is felt that through thisPanamint Valley, the Slate Range, and Randsburg Wash—to a p p roach China Lake can pre s e rve the archaeological andname a few. historical heritage of this part of California for future One of the oldest mining communities in southern California generations of Americans.can be found on the range. This is Coso Village, founded some-time before 1860. Many of its rubble buildings stand to tell of Russell Kaldenberg is currently Base Archaeologist for the China Lakethat era. It is here that the infamous bandido, Tiburcio Vasquez, Naval Air Weapons Station. Previously he was California Statesought shelter after robbing the stage at Freeman Junction. It was Archaeologist with the Bureau of Land Crystal Springs, five miles from CosoVillage, that one of the last incursions of theOwens Valley “Indian War” was fought, and itwas at Coso Village that during the 1930s thepeople sought to mine tailings piles to make aliving during the Great Depression. The iconic Twenty Mule Team route fromHarmony Borax traverses Death Valley andthen trends towards the Mojave throughWingate Pass, Wingate Wash, through PilotKnob Valley and stops at the 1884-1888Twenty Mule Team service stations at LoneWillow Springs and Granite Wells. The rubblebuildings that remain stand as a tribute to ourpioneer heritage and to the sound managementof the Navy. Other than the freight wagon roads, thebest known historic site on the South Range isthe Epsom Salt Monorail which began in theQuail Mountains near Death Valley and endedits run at Magnesia siding near the present daycommunity of Westend, near Trona.Researchers work closely with NAWS staff Researchers work closely with staff in theEnvironmental Planning and ManagementDivision to conduct special studies on the cul-tural resources of the Station. Currently fiveMaster’s Thesis level projects are being con-ducted. Famed western American archaeologi-cal researchers such as Drs. David Whitley,William Hildebrandt, Alan Gold, Robert Yohe,Suzanne Hendricksen, Mark Basgall, WilliamClewlow, Mark Allen, Brian Byrd, and JerrySchaefer and, others such as Sandy Rogers,Allika Ruby, Lynn Johnson, Amy Gilreath andRichard Steward, vie to understand theunknown past of the area through focused and North and South Ranges of the China Lake Navel Weapons Center DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007 { 5}
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 DE UTSCHE JOURNEYS INTO THE PAST Three Desert MuseumsT he Owens Valley of Eastern California today and There is a general store with its wares on display; there is an the experiences of those who lived there before us early doctor’s office and an early dental office; there is a recon- can hardly be in greater contrast. We arrive in air struction of an early pharmacy. The printing office of the Inyo conditioned cars in the summer, head toward Register displays not only the history of the newspaper but alsogroomed ski slopes in the winter, visit gift shops in the daytime, that of the Chalfant family as they reported the events of theirand watch the movie channel in the evenings. It is easy to forget time. On the other side of the lawn are a wagon barn, a black-that this was not always so. This was a land of pioneer farmers, smith shop, a tractor garage, and a complete school house. Theminers, herders, Native Americans, and even earlier desert peo- train depot stands at the center of the yard, and the tracks leadples whose only records were the images they pecked onto scat- south past old railroad cars, rusting farm equipment, and a watertered rock faces. tank with a pull-down spout that serviced the old steam engines. Today much of this history can only be found in books. For immigrants who stood here and looked south through theHomes and mines collapse; the daily materials of Native heat and dust, this must have seemed the end of the world.Americans were largely perishable; and rock art sites are usually It is the pioneer farm house, however, that may be most strik-well off from our accustomed travels. It is fortunate that this his- ing of all. Ceilings are high; doorways are framed in dark wood;tory and its lessons have been preserved in a number of desert and the wallpaper has a simple flower design. A cast iron bathtubmuseums. Three of these museums are described here. This stands on lion’s feet. Of course it was filled by heating water onchoice is arbitrary although it is also representative. They take us the wood stove. The pictures in a book case - and also on theon a journey through time and show us what we might never be walls - are perhaps the most impressive. The wedding picture ofable to find on our own. the couple who lived there is formal: the groom has a dark suit, a white shirt, and a stiff collar; the bride wears buttoned boots, aLaws Railroad Museum white dress with a high collar, a simple hat, and she is holding Pioneer life of the Owens Valley between 1880 and 1930 is white gloves. There are pictures of the children who have beenchronicled in a remarkable way at the town of Laws. Six miles scrubbed to within an inch of their lives and are wearing theirnorth of Bishop, California, this was once a stop on the Carson Sunday best. We are reminded that it was the women of the timeand Colorado narrow gauge railroad. Today it is a museum with who may have had the most difficult lives of all.about fifteen small buildings scattered on an eleven acre site. The museum is listed on the National Register of HistoricNarrow Gauge Tracks - Looking South from Laws, CA { 6} DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007
  7. 7. Places. It is funded in part by Inyo County, and in part throughdonations to the Bishop Museum and Historical Society. It iss t a ffed largely by volunteers. The museum website is at: California Museum Independence California was once the home of Mary Austin,who wrote colorful stories of the eastern deserts and the peoplewho lived and wandered there at the beginning of the 20th cen-tury. Independence was then, and still is, the Inyo County seat. Atthe center of the Owens Valley, it is fittingly where the EasternCalifornia Museum also chronicles the history of the valley. This is principally an indoor museum with a special appeal forstudents of history. Perhaps most intriguing are the many panelsdisplaying written and photographic records from the past.There are pictures from nearly all the early towns of the valley:store fronts, streets, saloons, animals, and even the local baseball Carson and Colorado Depot in Laws, CAteam in uniform. Voting records, correspondence, and miningclaims are on display. The photographs of people are most protected within the boundaries of the China Lake Navalimpressive, and these constitute a record of prominent citizens Weapons Center. The Maturango Museum is outstanding inand families up and down the entire eastern Sierra front. making these materials available to the public. The artifacts include smaller items of mining equipment, min- The museum bookstore has an extensive inventory dealingeral displays, guns, and household items of all sorts. The World with rock art in Eastern California and with the history of theWar II relocation center at Manzanar is featured in one exhibit. nearby Coso Mountains. There are photographic books display-Native American culture is another prominent theme. There is a ing the petroglyph panels; there are popular interpretations oflarge collection of arrow points and an extensive display of bas- the rock art; and there are technical studies of these sites. Manyketry that was done at the beginning of the 20th century. Photos of these printed materials are available only through the muse-of the native villages, shelters, and elders are in contrast to those um. Another notable feature of the Maturango Museum is itsof white settlers of the same time. program of lectures and tours. There is a regular evening series The Eastern California Museum is fully funded by Inyo of presentations available free to the public, and there are fieldCounty and has a professional staff to care for displays and to excursions to sites in the nearby Owens Valley.keep the historical records that belong to the museum but are not The most notable of all the museum offerings must surely bep resented to the general public. The museum website is: the opportunity to visit Little Petroglyph Canyon in the nearby China Lake Naval Weapons Center. This canyon is the most extraordinary of its kind in California, if not in the entire United States. It is dry, without shade, and nearly as austere as it is pos- sible to imagine. Still, the petroglyph panels speak of thousands of years of life that not only survived but which produced an astonishing artistic record. Because entrance to the Naval Base is strictly controlled, these petroglyphs have been preserved in extraordinary condition. It is possible for interested groups to make arrangements directly with the Navy to tour the site, but it may be worth the price of the tour to let the museum handle the arrangements and paperwork that the Navy requires. It is easily worth a long drive to Ridgecrest for this opportunity alone. Unlike the two museums described earlier, this one depends entirely upon donations to its museum foundation. It is relative- ly small, and its physical collection is limited. Further informa- tion is available by phone (760-375-6900) or at the museum web- site: Invitation to Desert Archeology Preserving the Past It is easy to forget that people have not always lived as we doMaturango Museum today. It is perhaps in the desert where the extremes of climate The very earliest history of Eastern California is accessible are particularly harsh that these differences are most striking.only through the physical artifacts that have been left behind: While the actual artifacts from earlier times may no longer beoccupation sites of Native Americans and the rock art images accessible, the history is preserved through these museums. Tofound on canyon walls and boulders in the desert. Some of these see how peoples before us lived in these places is humbling. Thisimages date back at least 10,000 years, and other images may history has lessons for our present culture.have been created within historical times. Most of these sites arenot advertised to the public. The most impressive of these are Craig Deutsche is Publisher and Managing Editor of Desert Report. DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007 { 7}
  8. 8. J
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 W E R L H O F IMPERIAL COUNTY Desert Societies, Then And NowI mperial County, California’s 58th, is now 100 years old. tribes, but spiritual forces guided them in these. It is amazing to recall its successive stages as our pio- A major environmental element was added to the lure of neers took us from a windswept desert to a year-round Imperial County when 2000 years ago the Colorado River had an diversified agriculture. Shelters grew from shanty- unusual flood that swarmed through the New and Alamo Riverstowns to booming cities; our children’s schools grew from sheds until Lake Cahuilla filled to a depth of 285 feet in the west coun-to colleges and universities. We became linked to all parts of the ty. El Centro would have been submerged under 25 feet of water.nation by air and road. Our residents have come from many The Colorado River people would trek the fifty miles acrossstates and many countries. It is expected the population of desert and sand dunes to work the east bank of Lake Cahuilla.Imperial County will rise from 160,000 today to 350,000 by mid- Fishing, gathering, hunting, and shell collecting were all eco-century (Imperial Valley Press, 11 July). No other county can nomic values, as well as probably planting activities. On the westmatch such a successful history. bank the Cahuilla peoples additionally built stone-lined fish But what of the people who were here before us? It is traps, as did the Kamia, a branch of Kumeyaay from thebreathtaking to realize that part of what is now Imperial County West Mountains.had been utilized or settled for at least 2000 years. There is All of the societies made contact with one another, learned ofevidence that some areas of this county had been settled even each others’ skills and crafts, and traded with surplus goods.3,500 years ago. They also shared stories and songs, and all agreed on the being It is clear, however, that by 2000 years ago four prehistoric and presence and powers of spiritual values. These people of thesocieties were active in Imperial County throughout the year - desert were - and still are - a prayerful people. Prayers were thesummers and all. Tribes of Yuman speaking natives settled along keys to their adaptation to changing times and stressful circum-the west bank of the Colorado River, the southwest shore of Lake stances. Their ways were expressed - and still are - in storiesCahuilla, and the West Mountains. The Shoshone who migrated enabling them to adjust to the most difficult places and times.out of southern Nevada settled along the northwest shore of From these they found spiritual comfort in their conditionsLake Cahuilla. Though intertribal fighting became serious at rather than seeking ways to change. This is the most significanttimes, all tribes traveled throughout thearea and traded with one another. Themost significant result was the spread ofhorticulture from Mexico throughoutareas along the waters of the ColoradoRiver banks, the New Alamo Rivers, LakeCahuilla, and the small lakes of Mesquiteand Blue. The intertribal connections were cul-turally important, and frequently resultedin inter-tribal marriages, as with PrestonJefferson Arrow-weed whose father wasQuechan, of Colorado River, and whosemother was Kumeyaay, of the WestMountains. (Preston wrote for the DesertReport, Mar. 15, 2007.) Fishing, gathering,horticulture, hunting, and trading were the Map used by permission of the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association,economic basis for the Imperial County from “The Forgotten Artist,” by Manfred Knaak. { 8} DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007
  9. 9. key to their 2000 years of adaptation, contrasting to the 100 yearsof remarkable changes in the historic period. So here were two major human societies in the same desert,the pioneers and the natives, but how seemingly different and his-torically apart they are. Our prehistoric forebears adapted to thehistoric forces that engulfed them by utilizing the same lessons bywhich they conducted their lives for 2000 years. Adaptation hasbeen their successful tactic to life and to this world. They see thistrait as the spiritual side of the world and life, told in stories andsongs. Their every act in the desert was spiritually supported, andthe archaeological sites found in the desert, whether a fish trap,prayer circle, arrowhead, or potsherd, are all of the same intentand spiritual purpose. The spirits that supported them are stillthere and should be respected. To destroy or collect these arti-facts is affecting the spiritual purpose with which, and for which,these were made. These spiritual treasures should be protected byour society, for to collect or destroy is to violate the sacred, as wellas to leave a hole in the desert and the native’s past.Jay von Werlhof is the dean of California desert archeology. He haswritten many academic papers and has mentored many students. He wasthe driving force in creating the Imperial Valley College DesertMuseum, expected to open within the next six months. A recentfestschrift honoring him has been published by the Maturango Museumin Ridgecrest, CA. Above: Fish Trap near Old Lake Cahuilla Below: Sleeping Circles near Old Lake Cahuilla DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007 { 9}
  10. 10. Historical Resources in the California Desert compatible with the European alpine hut experience. The intact standing cabins in the Inyo Mountains Wilderness are part of a much larger cultural landscape. The BLM is seeking assistance (funding) to complete a professional evaluation of all historic resources in the area. As an example of an intact, essen- tially unaltered 19th century mining district in its entirety, the Beveridge Mining District is unparalled. Also unparalled are the recreational opportunities afforded by the 40-mile long stretch of trail linking historic sites in the area. An archeological inventory and evaluation would help us develop an adequate wilderness recreation-cultural resources management plan. A plan would help address the following: 1. How can we best protect and preserve this unique cultural landscape with more publicity and growing recreational use? 2. What structures and trail segments should we stabilize and maintain and to what standard? 3. How do we mitigate adverse recreational impacts such as the use of cabins, ruins, and millsites as campsites, and the dam- age to sites and loss of artifacts due to vandalism and theft? DoSmall Forge Used for Blacksmithing – we develop some rules? What type of information should we beInyo Mountains Wilderness providing to the public? 4. What kind of recreational experience should we be promot-continued from page 3 ing? Where do the Inyos fall on the recreational opportunitywe have noted some losses, mostly due to natural attrition, but spectrum from primitive, self-exploration to permitted and guid-increasingly due to theft and vandalism. In 2005, we brought a ed use?BLM archeologist with us on a six-day backpack to inventory 5. What recreational uses should be accommodated? Whatthree intact standing structures, one of which we hope to stabi- should not? What uses are most compatible with culturallize next Spring. In 2006, we returned with the archeologist to tie re s o u rce protection and the protection of other sensitivedown the structure we plan to stabilize for the winter. On that resources in the area?trip, we found one of the collapsed structures at the ghost townhad been resurrected with modern screws and plywood by a well- Martha Dickes is the Wilderness Resources Specialist in the Ridgecrestintentioned but sadly uninformed person(s). We disassembled as Field Office. She has hiked and backpacked in the Inyo Mountains formuch as we could. many years and has personally visited and catalogued most of the sites Over the course of the next few years, BLM plans on having and resources mentioned in this article. She is now confronting the ques-archaeologists evaluate 15-plus known standing structures (ten tion of how these resources can best be managed and protected.inside wilderness) within the Ridgecrest Field Office Area. (BLMwill not be evaluating structures associated with current mining The Sierra Club Desert Committee supports the BLM inclaims.) This is part of a new program we are implementing with addressing these issues. If you would like to suggest some answersrespect to what used to be called “adopt-a-cabin.” We are transi- to these questions, or if you have further ideas about such historictioning all structures found within the resource area to a Historic preservation, please contact Martha Dickes at: Martha_DickesSite Stewardship Program under the direction of cultural staff. The immediate goal is to run each standing struc-ture through a series of filters, to determine ownership, structur-al integrity, historical significance if any, and wilderness compat-ibility. Structures may then be removed or maintained to theappropriate standard with a management plan in place. The 1964 Wilderness Act prohibits permanent structures orinstallations in wilderness (Section 4(c)). There will be no newconstruction or reconstruction of any collapsed structures orarcheological ruins inside any wilderness area. Standing struc-tures determined to be historically significant by a qualifiedarcheologist, however, may be stabilized if stabilization conformsto the Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) of 1979,the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, and theWilderness Act and Section 2(c) of the CDPA. In this case, theemphasis will be strictly on historic preservation, not on estab- Milling Site – Inyo Mountains Wildernesslishing developed recreation sites. American wilderness is not { 10 } DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007
  11. 11. CURRENT ISSUESRenewable Energy in the Desert the current critical habitat designation. It further restricts the areas that Both the President’s National Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the state would be enforced for conservation of the plant which is foundof California’s commitment to expanding renewable energy technolo- nowhere in the United States except on a portion of the Algodonesgy and development have resulted in a dramatic increase in interest Dunes. On August 23, 2007, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be host-and filing of right-of-way applications for development of solar energy ing a public meeting at their Carlsbad Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road,projects on public lands in the California desert. Currently at least 30 Carlsbad, California, 92011 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8preliminary applications have been filed with the BLM California Desert p.m. They will accept written comments from all interested partiesDistrict (CDD) for development on more than 350,000 acres of public until September 25, 2007. More information is available at:land. These are at best “expressions of interest” and when complete and www.biologicaldiversityapplications are filed, if ever, they will be subject to the requirements .org/swcbd/SPECIES/peirsons/index.html.of the National Environmental Protection Act which requires, amongother items, opportunities for public comment. Additionally, numerousapplications have been filed for the development of wind and geother- Major Ruling Issued Againstmal energy. Energy development involves many complex issues and “Sunrise Powerlink” Projectdeserves the attention of an informed public. In a stunning setback to San Diego Gas and Electric, the California The link below has good references on these projects. Of particular Public Utilities Commission has delayed a decision on the Sunriseinterest is the link to the Communication Plan for Outreach. This Powerlink through at least the summer of 2008. Commissioner Diandescribes the position of the CDD concerning these applications. Grueneich admonished SDG&E for the delay. According to a ruling issued Tuesday, July 24, SDG&E only recently revealed several key pieces of new information about the Powerlink including: (1) SDG&E’s desire to expand the project in the future (most likely toSurprise Canyon RS 2477 Suit the Greater Los Angeles region),Dismissed (2) The need for a major new substation to interconnect the Sunrise Last year an off-road group sued under RS-2477 for access to Powerlink with wind power, andSurprise Canyon in the Panamint Mountains. RS 2477 is the ancient (3) SDG&E’s new position that renewable facilities will not be devel-statute that motor enthusiasts claim gives rights to drive all old roads. oped in the Imperial Valley without the Powerlink. (The companyIn July, 2007, Judge Lawrence J O’Neill, a US District Court judge, previously claimed that renewables would be developed with or dismissed the suit. The off-road group does not own the road, and only without the Sunrise Powerlink.)owners can sue, he stated. Surprise Canyon flows at substantial volume for several miles in thecanyon, fed by two springs above the falls. It’s an extreme rarity. In More Military Training in theplaces the canyon is so narrow that vehicles had to drive in the stream. California Desert?In other places vehicle ruts captured the stream creating unnatural A company called Wind Zero has purchased 1,000 acres in the east-conditions. Since a flood which occurred in 1984, and now without ern part of the town of Ocotillo in western Imperial County where ittraffic, riparian growth has rebounded, and wildlife is flourishing. hopes to establish a “training facility” for government (military) per-Bighorn sheep have become a common sight. It’s expected the sonnel, law enforcement, and civilians. This is an area rich in Nativeoff-road group will appeal, or try a different tactic. The effect of this rul- American cultural heritage. Imperial County is an EPA non-attainmenting on the Inyo County RS2477 suit to open roads in Death Valley air basin where the air quality at times is of the poorest in California.National Park is unknown. This facility would also impact the Ocotillo designated EPA sole source aquifer. Wind Zero has not yet filed any paperwork with Imperial County. The community is keeping close track of this project, which isCritical Habitat for Pierson’s very similar in its components to the Blackwater military/mercenaryMilk-vetch in the Algodones training camp proposed on 800 acres in the rural town of Portrero inDunes Eastern San Diego County. The company’s web site is: www.wind- On July 27, 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a new To view a video of the June community meeting, go to:critical habitat proposal for the federally and state-protected Peirson’s Look for the link “videos”, click on that,milk-vetch, as mandated by federal court. The new proposal identifies and in the list of recent videos you will find the one for the Ocotillo Wind16,108 acres of land in the Algodones Dunes as habitat necessary for Zero meeting.the survival and recovery of the rare plant, a 25-percent reduction from continued on page 13 DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007 { 11 }
  12. 12. BY 
 ELD RI DG E GRAZING The Essential Range Management ToolI t’s a crisp February morning. My open shutters show- Act which regulates grazing on federal lands. Following the act’s case the expansive Steptoe Valley below, one of the passage and the resultant reduction of grazing levels, there was a many closed basins across east central Nevada which general improvement in range conditions. One of the results of host various living symbols of our rural custom and cul- managing grazing was the creation of numerous “exclosures”,ture. On the distant East Bench the high-voltage transmission small areas fenced to exclude livestock, which were constructedlines reflect the early-morning sun, silently providing power for by the federal government to monitor grazing and to determineeverything electric and electronic, including my word processor the general overall effect of grazing upon the resources. Theas well as the one used by its owner somewhere down the line to information provided by these exclosures may not have yieldedprotest construction of transmission towers. the expected results but the information provided is nevertheless And near the transmission line I see a large white band migrat- quite useful. Across Nevada, exclosure studies have shown thating slowly northward toward the tank on the East Bench - a flock absence of grazing does not automatically lead to an increasedof range sheep taking their time going to water. Their owner and diversity of vegetation and healthier plants. Our rangeland grass-his peers across the West help maintain rangeland health while es and forbs evolved in the presence of grazing animals and reg-providing food and fiber for all citizens, no matter their political ular disturbance by fire, drought, insects, etc. Fresh new growthviews or environmental persuasion - hell, even vegetarians at is important to plant health. No plant is static. It must be able totimes wear wool. grow if it is to be healthy. Outside the exclosures native rangeland I heard my neighbor whistling before daylight as he left for is more productive, more diverse, more conducive to wildlife andwork at the local copper mine - he seems content that our nation’s continued on page 22industrial needs have once again prioritized and secured hisemployment. He and his colleagues across our land, by providingdomestic minerals and metals which benefit all segments of oursociety, help limit our nation’s reliance on foreign minerals. Theirefforts provide materials to build everything we use, includingthat same anonymous down-the-line computer, which, ironically,expends much of its useful life protesting the opening of mineseverywhere. I know little about electricity or mining, but I empathize withthose industries simply because I’ve experienced the frustrationsresulting from similarly-misguided or incomplete data regardingthe grazing industry. Therefore, I am pleased to briefly addressthe benefits of federal-land grazing, the business that supportedmy livelihood, in concert with its industrial neighbors, for morethan 40 years. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s much of the land in theWest, including Nevada became overstocked with sheep, cattleand horses, and the range suffered extensive damage. Most of thenative bunchgrasses were lost and replaced by perennial shrubsand non-native grasses, species which are not as palatable to live- Sheep in Garden Valley, NVstock. This abuse ultimately led to passage of the Taylor Grazing { 12 } DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007
  13. 13. CURRENT ISSUEScontinued from page 11 Public Invited to Review BLM’sGrazing Rules on Hold OHV Grant Applications In July, 2006 the BLM issued revised grazing rules, claiming they The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is inviting public commentswould “contribute to protecting the health of the rangelands” and on its draft grant applications being proposed to the Californiamake administration more efficient. Western Watersheds Project chal- Department of Parks and Recreation, Off-Highway Motor Vehiclelenged the revisions, arguing that they were largely fashioned by graz- Recreation Division (OHMVR). The draft BLM applications encompassing interests and ignored much of BLM’s own science on the subject. approximately 90 projects, ranging from facility developmentsIn unambiguous terms Judge Lynn Winmill of the Idaho District Court to restoration work proposed throughout BLM’s 16 field offices inagreed that the regulations were initiated by grazers, not the BLM, the state.stated the new regulations loosened grazing restrictions without The grant applications may be viewed at: http://www.blm.govshowing improvement, and that they limited public input and compro- /ca/st/en/prog/recreation/ohv/grants/2008.html. All public commentsmised the BLM’s ability to properly manage grazing. Judge Winmill received prior to close-of-business on September 7 will be forwardedalso concluded that the BLM did not properly consult with the Fish & to OHMVR Division as part of the grant packages. CommentsWildlife Service, violated NEPA and FLPMA, and that a review team had written after this date should go directly to the Off-Highway Motormodified the original science-based analysis with unexplained omis- Vehicle Commission with copies to the BLM.sions and revisions. Further information on the grant process is available on the OHMVR Judge Winmill put the revised regulations on hold until the BLM website: id=1164obeys the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental For further details on BLM’s grant applications, contact BLM OHVPolicy Act. The decision is available at http://www.westernwater- coordinator Jim Keeler at (916) 978-4654 or email, Click Read the Decision.’s Green Path North Revisions to the South CoastThreatens California Desert Resource Management Plan The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s proposed Green The Palm Springs-South Coast Field office of the Bureau of LandPath North is yet another plan to put a new energy corridor through the Management (BLM) is preparing a revision to its 1994 ResourceCalifornia desert. This plan proposes a path of high-transmission Management Plan (RMP) for the South Coast Planning Area. This areapower lines stretching from the Coachella Valley to Hesperia that includes 300,000 acres in parts of five counties: Los Angeles,would slice through mostly undeveloped desert land, including the Big Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Orange. Increasing urban-Morongo Canyon Preserve ACEC and the Pipes Canyon Preserve. ization along with changes in a number of other factors will be reflect- The LADWP’s selling point for the project, that it would transmit ed in the revised plan and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)renewable geothermal power, ignores the many less environmentally which will accompany it.destructive ways for Los Angeles to green-up its energy supply, includ- The planning process will begin with a “scoping” period in whiching locally-generated solar energy and use of the latest technology to members of the public are invited to indicate the issues and concernstransmit high-voltage energy along existing energy corridors. The fact which they wish to have addressed in the plan. Public scoping meet-that the LADWP sought out an indirect transmission line path that goes ings will be held in San Diego County, Riverside County, and Los85 miles out of its way to zigzag across primarily public land (leasable Angeles County in order to ensure local community participation andat $14.60 per linear mile) makes this project far from green. input. All public meetings will be announced through the local news Other than the application LADWP filed with the BLM, public infor- media, newsletters, and the BLM Web site ( atmation on Green Path North is close to nonexistent. Local communities least 15 days prior to the event. Written comments will be acceptedhave come together to form the California Desert Coalition specifically within 30 calendar days of the last scheduled public scoping oppose Green Path North, and further information can be obtained Further information will be posted on the Palm Springs-South Coastfrom the CDC at Field website ( springs.1.html) or may be obtained from Greg Hill at (760-251-4840), or by e-mail to DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007 { 13 }
  14. 14. B Y 
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 S CALIFORNIA CROSSROADS AT THE TEJON RANCH More Unaffordable Housing… Or A New State Or Federal Park?A t the crossroads of California where valleys, mountains, and deserts meet, lies Tejon Ranch: 270,750 acres of private land, the largest con- Why is Tejon Ranch so special? tiguous parcel left in California. Tejon straddlesthe Tehachapi Range of the southern Sierra Mountains from the It is the only place where four “eco-regions”San Joaquin Valley floor to the desert slopes of the Antelope – the San Joaquin Valley, Mojave Desert,Valley. Today, when driving “the Grapevine” section of Interstate5, people enjoy views of oak dappled grasslands and chaparral Sierra Nevada and South Coast – converge.along the western edge of Tejon. In spring, the slopes explode in It is also home to over 80 imperiled species.stunning wildflower shows. Currently home to the California condor, Tejon Ranch is at acrossroads in time. Within the next few years, decisions will bemade that will irrevocably alter the fate of Tejon Ranch and the towering valley oaks to their diminutive scrub oak cousins, Tejonquintessential California natural landscape that we know today. contains the richest number of oak species in the state. The land now called T ejon Ranch harbors a rich cultural lega-Why is Tejon Ranch so special? cy for numerous Native American tribes. Sacred sites and historic Scientists consider Tejon Ranch to be a “biological diversity villages are located throughout the property and are essential forhotspot” because of its highly unique concentration of a large maintaining and revitalizing tribal cultures. Historic ranchos andnumber of plants and animals. It is the only place where four other ranching artifacts from the Californio period also remain“eco-regions” – the San Joaquin Valley, Mojave Desert, Sierra on the ranch. Tejon is truly a living history of California’s richNevada, and South Coast – converge. Home to over 80 imper- and extraordinary past.iled species, including the San Joaquin Kit Fox, California Two of the largest earthquake faults in California meet onSpotted Owl, the Tehachapi Slender Salamander, and many other Tejon Ranch: the San Andreas Fault (the mother of all fault linesplants and animals that live no where else on Earth, it also pro- in California) and the Garlock Fault, which forms the Tehachapivides crucial biological connections between adjacent protected Mountains. These large, active, and wide destructive fault zonesnatural lands, linking the Sierras to the southern coast ranges and are foolish places on which to build new cities.the desert to the coast and San Joaquin Valley. Incomparable native grasslands on the east side of Tejon rep- What is planned for Tejon Ranch?resent a plant community that has been virtually eliminated The Tejon Ranch Company, a publicly-traded company heav-throughout most of California and the West, supporting the ily invested in by Wall Street, has proposed a series of sprawlingpronghorn antelope, the namesake of the eastern valley. From urban developments that could destroy Tejon’s natural and cul- { 14 } DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007
  15. 15. tural heritage, jeopardize the recovery of the California condor, Tehachapi Mountains, the poppy-covered desert slopes ofseriously congest southern California’s freeways and highways, Antelope Valley, and glimpse the vast wingspan of prehistoricand increase air pollution in two of the nation’s worst air quality Condor!...all just 60 miles north of Los Angeles at Tejon-basins. The Company is piecemealing these developments, which Tehachapi Park!are remote from any municipal infrastructure, to benefit theirdistant corporate stockholders. In doing so, they are violating Ileene Anderson is a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversityone of the prime considerations of environmental review: cumu- and coordinator of the Center’s efforts to achieve the Tejon-Tehachapilative impact. Park vision. Adam Keats is director of the Center for Biological The proposed luxury “Tejon Mountain Village” in Kern Diversity’s Urban Wildlands Program.County, sprawling over 37,000 acres and building golf courses,second and third vacation homes, and commercial space, wouldcarve the heart out of Tejon. It would badly compromise prime FOR MORE INFORMATIONCondor habitat – habitat upon which the survival of the speciesin the wild might depend. This exclusive development would To learn more about Tejon Natural Park, please visitirrevocably change the quality and quantity of wildlands in this and area of the Tehachapi Mountains, turning it into a play- /programs/sprawl/tejon/index.htmlground for the wealthy homeowners. The enormous 23,000-house “Centennial” project in LosAngeles County is the largest housing developmentever proposed in California’s history and is located onlands that currently support many more pronghornthan people. This new city would require longcommutes to jobs in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, orPalmdale/Lancaster, adding to traffic congestion,worsening air quality, and increasing green house gasemissions since there are no public transit systems toserve the area.. The partially constructed “Tejon IndustrialComplex” along Interstate 5 in Kern County is a mega-box industrial complex, slated for a major expansion onprime agricultural land. This “inland port” wouldincrease diesel truck traffic in the already seriously pol-luted southern San Joaquin Valley and add to trucktraffic congestion on Interstate 5. The burdens to local public services from these proj-ects are daunting. Ultimately, county taxpayers will payfor new basic infrastructure including fire protectionand emergency medical services in these remote areasof the counties.… So what’s the solution? Significant conservation investments have alreadybeen made to secure the biological connectivity aroundthe southern San Joaquin Valley. Using the nationalforests and monuments as building blocks, both privateand public monies have been used to secure adjacentareas as natural open space. One big gap remains –Tejon Ranch. Because of its unique natural, cultural,and historic resources, the Center for BiologicalDiversity and Sierra Club, in coordination with otherconservation organizations, are aiming to convincestate and federal officials that Tejon should be the gov-ernment’s highest priority for wildland protection – alasting legacy for our future generations. Based on eval-uations by eminent conservation biologists, this groupis asking state and federal officials to secure and pre-serve at least 245,000 acres of Tejon as a new state ornational park… forever. When this goal is reached, everyone will be able toexplore and enjoy the oak dappled foothills of thesouthern Sierra Nevada, the fir-topped peaks of the Proposed Vision for Tejon-Tehachapi Park DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007 { 15 }
  16. 16. BY 
 S H R YO CK , 
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 M E E K RESTORATION, BARRICADES, AND SIGNAGE Deterring ORV Use & Lessening its ImpactsT he California Desert Protection Act of 1994 desig- Impacts of ORV use on desert animals nated a number of new Wilderness Areas in Still, the greatest impacts of ORV use may be the effects it has Southern California because, as the act states, the had upon desert animals, including federally threatened species. wilderness values of the lands were becoming Lizard population densities tend to show marked declines inincreasingly threatened by “incompatible use and development.” areas with heavy ORV use, probably as a result of a combinationAnthropogenic threats to Wilderness Areas nationwide are cer- of factors, including the loss of plant cover, reduction of inverte-tainly numerous and hard to ignore, including atmospheric pol- brate food sources, and trampling deaths. A study of flat-tailedlutants, invasive species introduction, livestock grazing, and fire horn lizard populations at Ocotillo Wells State Vehiclesuppression. For the deserts of Southern California, however, Recreation Area indicated that the lizards, which favor sandyone of the most direct and persistent human threats to areas, may have shifted or dispersed to less-suitable habitats as aWilderness Areas is recreational ORV (off-road vehicle) use, result of heavy ORV use.often in inappropriate or illegal settings. Indeed, the number of Desert bighorn sheep populations have also been shown toillegal ORV incursions into wilderness is certainly in the thou- avoid areas with heavy vehicular use. A study in Canyonlandssands – too many for land management agencies to control – and National Park indicated that the sheep tend to avoid road corri-is probably increasing. dors, resulting in 15 percent less use of potential suitable habitat. Additionally, ORV use has caused a substantial loss of habitat andImpacts of ORV use on soil and vegetation reduction in habitat quality for the desert tortoise. High-density The impacts of ORV use upon desert ecosystems are well doc- tortoise populations formerly occupied many heavily used ORVumented by scientists. When ORV tires come into contact with areas, and continued use of these areas prevents the tortoisesdesert soil, they destroy surface stabilizers and reduce both soil from reestablishing themselves.2porosity and water infiltration capacity. As a result, desert soilsbecome far more susceptible to wind and water erosion. Controlling ORV useMoreover, compacted soil can greatly inhibit the root growth of But how can illegal ORV use be controlled? Given that lawdesert plants. In areas where ORV use is heavy, vegetation gen- enforcement rangers simply cannot be everywhere at once, thereerally becomes significantly denuded. These effects can occur are only three realistic on-the-ground options: wilderness /after only a few vehicle passes and cause noticeable damage due closed route signs, barricades, and the fragility of desert soils and the slow recovery time of the For the past seven years, crews of Student Conservationdesert ecosystem.1 Association (SCA) interns have been working in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to restore illegal ORVUnauthorized Vehicle Trail before Restoration Identical Trail after Restoration { 16 } DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007
  17. 17. routes in the Wilderness and Limited-Use Areas of Southern met, there is always the potential for vandalism.California, developing restoration techniques that both camou- In contrast, restoration seeks to camouflage incursions so thatflage incursions and encourage re-growth. Now the results are users will never suspect that a route has been closed. Barricadesstarting to be quantified. cannot accomplish this, nor do they encourage plant regrowth. From September, 2006 to May, 2007, the SCA’s Wilderness However, in certain environments where restoration cannot beRestoration Corps VII monitored 190 restored and 555 non- used easily – sandy washes, in particular – barricades may still berestored incursions into 37 different Wilderness Areas. Using the most effective means of controlling ORV use.this data, they assessed the effectiveness of three strategies –restoration, hard barriers, and signs – at preventing illegal SignageORV use. Of the 745 incursions monitored, approximately 327 were clearly marked with carsonite wilderness signs (not includingRestoration by camouflage those with barricades or wood posts). Nearly half of these incur- So how does one go about restoring the desert? Seven years sions had at least a few sets of vehicle tracks when monitored,ago, the SCA attempted to answer this question, and the solution while another 20% had at least one set of tracks. This means thatarrived at by teams of interns was based on a very simple only a third of the signed incursions had not been driven on. Ifstrategy: camouflage. we exclude incursions where restoration is present, the number Today, the techniques in use by SCA crews are geared towards drops to about a quarter.blending illegal routes in with the surrounding landscape, while, Obviously, the wilderness signs alone are not preventing ille-at the same time, encouraging regrowth. The most common of gal ORV use. This does not mean that signs are not important,these techniques is called vertical mulch, whereby dead shrubs or though. In fact, a statistical analysis of the non-restored incur-creosote branches are gathered and replanted on illegal routes to sions indicates that signs do help reduce the frequency of ORVlook like real, dead bushes. Typically, seed pits are then placed at use to some extent. There also would be no way to indicate thethe base of the mulch, providing a convenient microclimate for location of wilderness boundaries without plants to grow. The signs are simply not doing a good enough job. There are Some other commonly used restoration techniques include too many people driving past them. Alternative strategies, par-horizontal mulch (laying dead plant matter, such as Joshua tree ticularly restoration, must be used in conjunction with wildernesslogs, across incursions), raking and sweeping to remove any visi- signs if ORV use is to be controlled.ble vehicle tracks, adding rocks from the surrounding landscape,and decompacting soil. When done well, these techniques can ORV use must be restricted to legal routestrick even a discerning eye into believing that the incursion they For several decades, ORV use in Southern California has beenare hiding was never there at all. a serious threat to desert ecosystems. With the designation of 69 Of the 190 restored incursions, 72.1 percent had not been new Wilderness Areas in 1994, this threat has become far toodriven on again. In comparison, only 28.3 percent of the 555 serious to ignore. These areas are the home to several federallynon-restored incursions (including those with wilderness signs or t h reatened species. If Wi l d e rness Areas are to serve theirbarricades) were not being used. scientific and re c reational function as pristine ecosystems Not surprisingly, restored incursions were significantly less unimpaired for future generations, then ORV use must belikely to be used than others. But this is not all. Restoration also restricted to legal routes.seemed to encourage regrowth. Indeed, one of the most com- Seven years of restoration efforts by the SCA and the BLMmonly noted locations for regrowth was at the base of vertical have helped, but there is still much work to be done. In an agemulch, where seed pits are typically placed. Thus, restoration is when so many impacts are seemingly beyond our control – pol-effective both at preventing ORV use on incursions and encour- lution, global warming, invasive species – can we really afford toaging regrowth. leave this one unchecked? The one caveat to these restoration strategies is that restora-tion may not be as effective on the largest of incursions – those Laura Meek and Daniel Shryock were interns with the Studentthat can be seen for long distances – such as hill climbs. In Conservation Association during the 2006-2007 academic year whilegeneral, restoration is probably most effective on incursions that they assessed the effectiveness of various techniques in protecting wilder-can only be seen for distances of up to about 100 meters. ness for the Bureau of Land Management. Thomas Meek is a graduate student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and OrganismalBarricades Biology, University of California, Riverside, California. Like restoration, barricades can be a relatively effective meansof preventing vehicle use on incursions. Of the 124 barricaded 1 For more information on how ORVs affect desert soils and vegetation, see: R. H. Webb and H. G. Wilshire, editors. 1983. Environmental Effects of Off-road Vehicles:incursions monitored, 60 percent (72) were effective at Impacts and Management in Arid Regions. Springer-Verlag, New York.preventing all vehicle use. Still, this means that in 40 percent ofcases the barricades did not stop ORV users from driving on 2 For more information on how ORVs affect desert animals, see: Beauchamp, et. al.incursions. That’s a high number, considering the cost and effort 1998. Habitat Use of the Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma mcallii) in a Disturbed Environment. Journal of Herpetology. Vol. 32: 210-216; Papouchis, et. al.involved in construction. 2001. Responses of Desert Bighorn Sheep to Increased Human Recreation. The Journal What’s more, barricades can only be used in desert environ- of Wildlife Management. Vol. 65: 573-582; Boarman, W.I. and K. Beaman, editors.ments when there are natural features on both sides to prevent 2002. The sensitive plant and animal species of the Western Mojave Desert. U. S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, Sacramento, CA.users from simply going around. There are no trees in the desertto provide convenient obstacles. And even when this condition is DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007 { 17 }
  18. 18. Protection Of Historic And Cultural Resources: A Personal Accountcontinued from page 1ings on significant and irreplaceable cultural resources. actions are simple paperwork exercises and do not have the Section 110 (NHPA) answers the concerns for preservation, potential to affect cultural resources. For those that might haverounds out the responsibilities of federal agencies that require the an effect, the next step is to identify historic or prehistoricdevelopment of preservation programs, and includes proactive resources within the reach, or Area of Potential Effect, of theidentification and protection of historic properties. Section 110 project. Cultural resources that are identified during this step areand BLM’s preservation program are the ‘fun’ part of a federal analyzed and evaluated. The BLM will try to adjust the projectarchaeologist’s job. This is where public education, volunteer to avoid those cultural resources found to meet the criteria forprograms, and archaeology for the sake of archaeology come listing in the National Register. If the historic property can’t beinto play. avoided, we look for ways to lessen the impact to the resource or to preserve the information contained within it. These steps are carried out in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer and Native Americans. Archaeological resources are protected Compliance is always a balancing act. The BLM has a multi- ple use mandate: to manage public lands in a manner that under a variety of federal laws and protects archaeological and natural resources while being responsive to the country’s needs for recreation, minerals, and regulations. The Archaeological Resources energy development (among other things). Project proponents wonder why it takes so much time to provide a cultural “clear- Protection Act of 1979 (ARPA) provides ance”. The answer is that cultural resources are part of our “irre- placeable heritage”. These cultural resources are fragile and both civil and criminal penalties for finite; once they are gone we have lost that part of our past for- ever. The time we take to identify significant resources and pro-the excavation, removal, damage, alteration, vide for their protection is time well spent in the public interest. In turn preservationists often express frustration that we are or defacement of archaeological resources. unable to ‘save’ every cultural resource. Although all cultural resources are left undisturbed whenever possible, the federal government focuses primarily on protection and preservation of significant resources- those listed or eligible for listing on the What is the role of a federal agency archeologist? Federal NRHP.agencies, as EO 11593 states, are expected to “administer the cul- My job, the job of federal agency archaeologists, is to repre-tural properties under their control in a spirit of stewardship and sent the interests of our shared National heritage and to involvetrusteeship for future generations and initiate measures necessary the public, other agencies, and Native Americans in the federalto direct their policies, plans and programs in such a way that fed- land management process.erally owned sites, structures, and objects of historical, architec- Your job is to respect and protect these fragile and irreplace-tural, or archaeological significance are preserved, restored, and able traces of our past.maintained for the inspiration and benefit of the people.” Thefederal archeologist, or cultural resources specialist, provides * The National Register is the official list of cultural resourcesexpert advice to agency decision-makers and provides leadership deemed worthy of preservation , and we refer to listed resourcesfor agency preservation and protection efforts. The cultural as ‘historic properties’ – whether they are historic in age or areresources specialist also provides an access point for public and older, prehistoric resources.Native American participation in decisions that may affect signif-icant, and spiritual, properties. Wanda Raschkow is the Cultural Resources Specialist/Archaeologist for As a federal archaeologist, much of my time is engaged in the Bureau of Land Management in the Palm Springs-South Coastwhat we refer to as “compliance” or NHPA Section 106 review. Field Office. The Field Office manages approximately two million acresThis involves incorporating the procedures and processes of the of land – a sizeable storehouse of cultural and spiritual resources, theNHPA into the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) environ- majority of which have not yet been identified.mental analysis process. The cultural resources process runs par-allel and is similar in purpose to natural resources protectionefforts. Where agency biologists and natural resources staffconcern themselves with the protection of critical habitat and FOR MORE INFORMATIONendangered species, cultural specialists protect historic andprehistoric properties. The process essentially follows this path: a federal archaeolo- Visit BLM’s cultural heritage programs:gist/cultural specialist is first called upon to determine if the proj- has the potential to affect cultural resources. Some federal { 18 } DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007
  19. 19. B Y 
 J O H N 
 H I A T
 T MESQUITE The Desert’s Tree Of LifeW hen most Americans food source for a portion of the year. Many think about mesquite of these tribes were semi-nomadic and trees they only think migrated between the lowlands in the cool about the tree as a months and the higher elevations in thesource of charcoal for barbeques. More hot months.knowledgeable individuals also know that Although we are moving away from themesquite wood is very hard, stable during regional cuisines of our predecessors, it istimes of changing humidity, and useful for important to recognize that Nativemaking furniture and other small items. To Americans had strong regional traditions forthe Native Americans of the Southwest, how they utilized the same food resources.however, the mesquite tree was the most For example, the Cahuilla people of theimportant tree in their lives. An all purpose Coachella Valley used storage granaries madet ree, it was a source of food, fuel, shelter, of sticks, elevated above the ground surf a c efiber, dyes, and wood for tools and weapons. and covered with thatch, to provide pro t e c- Prior to European settlement in the Southwest, extensive tion from the elements and rodents while the Timbisha of Deathmesquite occurred in many of the lower elevation valleys of Valley stored their mesquite pods in lined underg round pits.Southern California, Southern Nevada, Arizona, and Northern Unlike most edible plants of the pea family, the seeds of theMexico where groundwater lay close to the surface. The most honey mesquite are not the primary edible portion of the plant.widespread species of mesquite is the honey mesquite (Prosopis The flesh of the seed pod consists of a sweet tasting carbohydrateglandulosa), found in washes and low places, and screwbean material which makes up most of the mass of the pod. The seedsmesquite (Prosopis pubescens), found only in and near riparian are small and only a minor part of the pod by weight. Some treesareas. Due to firewood cutting, groundwater pumping, cattle bear much sweeter pods than others so that trees with the sweet-grazing. and development many mesquite forests are just small est pods were preferred. The dried pods were prepared for eat-remnants of what they once were. Most of us today think of ing by pounding and grinding the pods, using a mortar and pes-mesquite as a shrub or small tree, but in earlier times, before dis- tle. The resulting material was sifted through a porous basket toturbance and where groundwater was plentiful, trees thirty feet separate the seeds from the pod flour. The seeds were set asidetall with trunks one to two feet in diameter were not uncommon. and saved. Th e Timbisha used wooden mortars made fro mPrior to agricultural development there were extensive mesquite mesquite stumps and stone pestles while people like the Seri offorests with many large trees in the lower Coachella Valley. In the Northwest Mexico used stone bedrock mortars and wooden pestles.late 1960’s and early 70’s when I first noticed mesquite there were The Timbisha took the pod flour, moistened it with a smallstill some large trees although they were no longer healthy due amount of water, gently kneaded it to evenly distribute the mois-to a falling water table. ture and made a patty over a form like an upturned basket. They Mesquite, a member of the pea family (Fabacae), produces a then covered the surface with the seeds saved from the grindingbean like pod which encapsulates the plant’s seeds. The pods of process and set it aside to dry in a place protected from the sun.honey mesquite, edible during all stages of development, are use- The covering of seeds and protection from sunlight kept theful as soon as they are big enough to grab. The immature green material from turning dark and being less desirable. Once thepods were picked by Native Americans, roasted and eaten like patty was dry the layer of seeds was scraped off and beans. They could also be crushed and eaten raw. The fully The dried cake was then ready to eat or could be stored for laterdeveloped but not dried pods were crushed, cooked and eaten. use. The seeds themselves were not normally eaten because ofThe dried pods were either picked off the trees or gathered after the difficulty in separating the edible portion from the hard,falling to the ground. The dried pods could either be processed inedible portion of the seed. The Timbisha would remain on theimmediately or stored for later use. The fact that the dry pods continued on page 21could be stored for extended periods of time was of great impor-tance to the desert tribes who were dependent upon this staple Above: Honey Mesquite: Leaves, Flowers, Pods DESERT REPORT SEPTEMBER 2007 { 19 }