PSR Visit

Here’s some highlights from recent Death Valley News:

New Death Valley Superintendent

Kathy Billings has been selected as the new superintendent for Death Valley National Park. Kathy has been with the National Park Service for 29 years and has worked in all four deserts in the United states in Big Bend National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and Great Basin National Park. She has served as superintendent at USS Arizona Memorial, Great Basin National Park, Organ Pip Cactus National Monument, and Pecos National Historical Park.

You can read more about the new park superintendent by clicking here.

DV Certified a Dark Sky Park

Stand in the valley and look up: Death Valley National Park has received international Dark-Sky Association certification. Death valley joins only two other U.S. National Parks (Big Bend National Park and Natural Bridges National Monument are the other two) in receiving dark sky certification, affirming what we who visit it regularly already knew: that those skies give some of the best night sky viewing in the United States.

Read more: New DV Superintendent and Other News From the Valley

Friends of Jawbone is proud to have received a 2010/11 safety and education grant from the California Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR) for a project which will increase the accuracy of Jawbone area GPS data.  This effort is named “The Owlshead Project” in memory of a young boy whose life was lost in Death Valley National Park in August 2009.  It is believed that he and his mother got lost deep in the Owlshead Mountains after following inaccurate information on their GPS.


The untimely death of young Carlos Sanchez inspired the Friends of Jawbone to create an online library of official, legal backcountry motor vehicle routes in California starting with the greater Jawbone area.  Soon the public will be able to consult our website to view and print backcountry route maps, and even download routes directly to supported GPS devices.

The inaccurate background route maps provided by mega data suppliers like Tele-Atlas and Navtec to most GPS manufacturers are unreliable and potentially dangerous to users.  These data suppliers tend to overlook the importance of ensuring accuracy and timeliness of backcounty road updates in their GPS system.  Once our project is completed, we will share our backcountry route data with these companies so that they can update the major GPS manufacturers and web-based map services with this new data.

Backcountry drivers that travel on designated open routes enjoy increased safety, lessen their impact on sensitive resources, and help preserve our wonderful backcountry driving opportunities for future generations.

You can stay connected to this project at www.jawbone.org.

DeathValley.com is following the progress of a unique online project from the Friends of Jawbone (FOJ), a coalition in support of outdoor recreation opportunities in East Kern county.  Soon the public will be able to go online to view and print backcountry route maps, and even download routes directly to supported GPS devices.

Dubbed the OwlsheadGPS Project, this effort seeks to offer the most accurate information possible about backcountry motorized routes on our public lands.  The first phase, as funded, will cover the greater Jawbone Canyon area, an area of approximately 1.5 million acres, and will launch this fall.

For the second phase of the OwlsheadGPS Project, the California Trail Users Coalition (CTUC) is developing a proposal to increase the coverage area to include an additional 25 million acres, including Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley National Park (DVNP) lent its support to the project in a letter from Superintendent Sarah Craighead.  Within it states that DVNP "supports efforts of private organizations in developing the Owlshead Project and other online GIS data bases that would offer current, safe information regarding the park's backcountry road system."  The Superintendent went on to say that she appreciates CTUC's "efforts to increase safety of backcountry users within the park."

DeathValley.com appreciates the support given to the OwlsheadGPS Project by Superintendent Craighead.

The OwlsheadGPS Project is funded by a 2010/11 safety and education grant from the California Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR).  This effort is named in the memory of a young boy whose life was tragically lost in the Owlshead Mountains of Death Valley in August 2009.  It is believed that he and his mother got lost deep in the back country after following inaccurate information on their GPS.

You can stay connected to this project here and at www.jawbone.org.

 Effective October 16, the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) California Desert District has lifted its campfire restrictions on all BLM-managed public lands in southern California within the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA).  BLM-managed lands in San Diego and western Riverside County remain under Stage II restrictions that only permit campfires within approved fire pits and grills provided for in developed recreational sites.

"Because we have declared our fire season over, the public will not be required to obtain a campfire permit throughout the CDCA," said Steven Borchard, California Desert District Manager.  "However, campers still are required to provide proper clearance of flammable fuels to a minimum of five feet and to have a shovel or other extinguishing tools readily available."

Read more: BLM Desert Campfire Restrictions Lifted

Death Valley Area News
The latest news from inside Death Valley National Park