Avawatz Mountains Wilderness

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Posted by Dezdan on July 04, 2002 at 22:39:38:

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

Size: Approximately 64,300 acres

Managing agency: Bureau of Land Management, Barstow Field Office

Location: On the eastern border of the Fort Irwin Military Reservation, on the southeastern border of Death Valley National Park, and 10 miles northwest of Baker in San Bernardino County.

Description: The Avawatz Mountains proposed wilderness is characterized by colorful eroded slopes, rugged ridges, and steep-walled, narrow canyons. The mountainous portion of the proposed wilderness is flanked on the east by deep, creosote-covered valleys that eventually become dry lakes. White, natural talc deposits are scattered across the area. In a mere nine miles, elevations rise from 680 feet near Silurian Dry Lake, to a 6,162-foot summit in the Avawatz Mountains.

The region is dominated by creosote shrubs. These hardy plants have waxy leaves to prevent water loss, and also employ enormous root systems to capture every available drop of moisture. The plant clones itself over time from its own roots. Some of these clones have been sprouting for 3,000 years, while one circle of clones in Arizona was found to be 18,000 years old according to Volume 2 of George Wuerthner's California's Wilderness Areas: The Complete Guide.

Life does not abound in the creosote community, but the proposed wilderness does provide habitat for bighorn sheep, coyote, bobcat, roadrunner, and other species capable of tolerating tough, hot conditions.

Ample proof of historic Native American residence in the area is found in the enormous number of archeological sites in the proposed wilderness. Some portions of the proposed wilderness are specifically protected by the BLM because of their Native American cultural importance. Traditional members of the Shoshone Nation continue to visit the area for spiritual and other cultural purposes, such as collecting plants and other materials for crafts and medicines.

This area is a paradise for rock climbers, as well as cross-country hikers and equestrians willing to brave the harsh conditions and bring plenty of water. Views from the Avawatz Mountains are outstanding in all directions, especially north into Death Valley National Park.

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