Soda Mountains Potential Wilderness

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Posted by Dezdan on July 04, 2002 at 22:41:42:

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 110,800 acres.

Location: Southeast of Fort Irwin and northwest of the Mojave National Preserve. Along highway 15, west of Baker in San Bernardino County.

Description: Topography varies from gentle slopes to rugged, highly eroded, jagged ridges. The washes have steep, rocky, multi-colored walls, ranging from brown at the bottom to red in the middle and gold at the top.

The dominant vegetation is creosote, found at the base of the mountains and in the interior valleys. Small annual plants and barrel cactus, cholla, and yuccas can also be found there. One sensitive species, Castela emoryi (Crucifixion thorn), occurs within this Wilderness Study Area.

Two intermittant lakes, East Cronese and West Cronese, are included in this area. East Cronese often contains water, providing habitat for wintering and migrating waterfowl and shore birds. The Yuma clapper rail, a federally listed endangered species, has been observed here. The concentrations of water-related birds also make this a choice foraging area for raptors.

A number of sensitive and/or significant cultural resource areas are located within this Wilderness Study Area, including archaeologically significant rock alignments, anthropomorphic figures, portions of aboriginal trail systems, and a large lithic workshop. Salt and hunting camp localities used by the Chemehuevi are in the area.

The Soda Mountains were not designated wilderness in the 1994 California Desert Protection Act based on a proposal, dating back over 12 years, to expand the Fort Irwin National Training Center. In December 2001, Congress approved the expansion of Fort Irwin. This expansion did not include the Soda Mountains, clearing the way for this area to be designated as wilderness.

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