Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is becoming known at the best record of Late Cretaceous terrestrial life. The remains of dinosaurs—hadrosaurs, ceratopsians, and tyrannosaurs—are impressive, with more than 50 genera of dinosaurs represented. There are more than 5,000 square km of fossil-rich Late Cretaceous rocks exposed. The realization of the fossil riches in the area did not come until the 1980s. More than 800 fossil locations are known (Stokstad 2001). In 2011, the sixth entirely new species of dinosaur was discovered in the monument. Fossil of plants and invertebrates are also preserved with the dinosaurs. The monument contains the Wolverine Petrified Forest, the second largest Late Triassic fossil forest known (Ash 2001). The park offers scenic drives, slot canyons, hoodoos, dinosaur tracks, and arches. The three major sections, from west to east, are the Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Escalante River canyons. This is one of the most remote areas in the lower 48 states and well deserving as a national monument under the Antiquities Act.

Ash, Sidney. 2001. A Late Triassic Trove of Fossil Plants. Science 294:2093.

Stokstad, Erik. 2001. Utah’s Fossil Trove Beckons, and Tests, Researchers. Science 294:41-43

 

 

 

Sierra Nevada Forests, Part 2C: Hydroelectric Reservoirs of the Mother Lode

Part 2C continues with hydroelectric reservoirs in the Mother Lode including the Bear, Cosumnes, Mokelumne, Truckee, and Yuba Rivers. The American River was previously described in part 2B.

Bear River

Alta Forebay, Pacific Gas & Electric (N39º13’ W120º47’) receives water from the Towle Canal (North Fork American River watershed) and regulates water entering the penstock to Alta Powerhouse (N39º13’ W120º48’) on the Little Bear River. Below the powerhouse, water enters the Boardman Canal of Placer County Water Authority for distribution to water customers. These facilities are components of the Alta Development of Pacific Gas & Electric.

Drum Forebay, Pacific Gas & Electric (N39º15’ W120º45’) receives water from the Lake Valley Canal and Drum Canal (from Spaulding Powerhouse No. 1 on the South Yuba River), then sends the water through the Drum No. 1 and No. 2 Powerhouses on the Bear River. It is part of the Drum No. 1 and No. 2 Development.

Drum Afterbay, Pacific Gas & Electric (N39º15’ W120º46’), is on the Bear River and receives water from the Drum Powerhouse No. 1 and No. 2. It is part of the Dutch Flat No. 1 Development. Water is diverted into the Dutch Flat No. 1 Tunnel east of the Bear River for hydroelectric generation at Dutch Flat No. 1 Powerhouse on the Dutch Flat Afterbay, and to the Dutch Flat No. 2 Flume west of the Bear River for delivery to the Dutch Flat No. 2 Forebay.

Dutch Flat No. 2 Forebay, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º13’ W120º50’) receives water from the Drum Afterbay delivers it to the Dutch Flat Powerhouse No. 2 on Dutch Flat Afterbay.

Dutch Flat Afterbay, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º13’ W120º51’), receives water from Dutch Flat Powerhouses No. 1 and 2. It is bordered by the National System of Public Lands. Water is diverted to the Chicago Park Flume for delivery to the Chicago Park Powerhouse on the upper end of Rollins Reservoir.

Rollins Reservoir, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º8’ W120º57’) is an irrigation storage and hydroelectric reservoir on the Bear River near Colfax on I-80. It partially occupies the National System of Public Lands.

Bear River Canal Diversion Dam, Pacific Gas & Electric (N39º8’ W120º57’) is just below Rollins Dam and delivers water into the Bear River Canal which sends water to the Halsey Forebay near Auburn. This dam is part of the Halsey Development.

Lake Combie, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º1’ W121º3’), is an irrigation and hydroelectric reservoir on the Bear River as it leaves the Sierra Nevada ecoregion. Shoreline residential development is common on this reservoir.

Cosumnes River

Jenkinson Lake, El Dorado Irrigation District (N38º43’ W120º34’) is south of Pollock Pines on Sly Park Creek. Sly Park Creek Dam was constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation but transferred to the El Dorado Irrigation District in 2003. The reservoir is partially on Eldorado National Forest lands.

Mokelumne River

South of Carson Pass, Meadow Lake (N38º36’ W119º58’), Twin Lake (N38º36’ W119º56’), Lower Blue Lake (N38º37’ W119º56’), and Upper Blue Lake (N38º37’ W119º57’), are operated by Pacific Gas & Electric as hydroelectric storage reservoirs for the North Fork Mokelumne River. Bear River Reservoir (N38º34’ W120º13’), and Lower Bear River Reservoir (N38º32’ W120º15’) are Pacific Gas & Electric hydroelectric projects on Eldorado National Forest lands. Salt Springs Reservoir (N38º30’ W120º11’) is a PG&E project on the North Fork Mokelumne River that occupies lands of both Eldorado and Stanislaus National Forests. Downstream from the national forest, Tiger Creek Reservoir (N38º27’ W120º30’) is also a PG&E project which occupies the National System of Public Lands (BLM lands).

On the Middle Fork of the Mokelumne River upstream from West Point, Schaads Reservoir (N38º23’ W120º26’) is operated by the Calaveras Public Utility District. It is also called the Middle Fork Dam Hydro Plant. Part of the reservoir occupies Stanislaus National Forest lands.

Truckee River

Boca Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, California (N39º24’ W120º6’), is on the Little Truckee River within the Tahoe National Forest. It provides irrigation storage for the Washoe County Conservation District as part of the Truckee Storage Project, and is accessed from I-80.

Echo Lake, El Dorado Irrigation District (N38º50’ W120º3’) is a tributary to the Upper Truckee River off of US Route 50 near Meyers. It is on Forest Service-managed lands of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

Lake Tahoe Dam, Bureau of Reclamation, California (N39º10’ W120º9’), is part of the Newlands Project and stores water for the 57,000 acres of irrigation lands downstream. The facility is operated by the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District. Although Lake Tahoe is a natural lake with a depth of 1,650 feet, the dam regulates the water level and controls the top six feet of the reservoir pool. The dam is located at Tahoe City on State Route 89.

Martis Creek Reservoir, US Army Corps of Engineers, California (N39º19’ W120º7’), was completed as a flood control reservoir on State Route 267 southeast of Truckee. Seepage has been an issue at the dam, and it has been maintained at a reduced pool of 70 acres for flood control and dam safety reasons. During flood control operations, the reservoir area could potentially increase temporarily to 770 acres if safety issues are resolved (USACE, 2014). The reservoir provides hiking opportunities within the Martis Creek Wildlife Area and Waddle Ranch Preserve of the Truckee Donner Land Trust.

Prosser Creek Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, California (N39º23’ W120º9’), is north of Truckee off of State Route 89 within the Tahoe National Forest. It is part of the Washoe Project, which stores water for fishery enhancement for Lahontan cutthroat trout and cui-ui spawning.

Stampede Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, California (N39º29’ W120º8’), is on the Little Truckee River north of Boca Reservoir in the Tahoe National Forest. Part of the Washoe Project, it stores water for fishery enhancement for Lahontan cutthroat trout and cui-ui spawning.

Yuba River

Merle Collins Lake (Virginia Ranch Dam), Browns Valley Irrigation District (N39º20’ W121º18’), is on Dry Creek, a tributary of the Yuba River, and is used for irrigation water and hydroelectric generation.

The Deer Creek Development of Pacific Gas & Electric receives water from Spaulding No. 2 Powerhouse below Spaulding Reservoir on the South Yuba River. Water from the powerhouse enters the South Yuba Canal and then the Chalk Bluff Canal, which flows across mostly Tahoe National Forest land to the Deer Creek Forebay (N39º18’ W120º49’). The forebay regulates water entering the penstock to Deer Creek Powerhouse (N39º18’ W120º51’) on South Fork Deer Creek, a tributary to the Yuba River.

Harry L. Englebright Lake, US Army Corps of Engineers (N39º15’ W121º16’), is on the Yuba River. Just downstream are the Narrows Powerhouses, one operated by Yuba County Water Agency and the other operated by Pacific Gas & Electric.

Scotts Flat Reservoir, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º17’ W120º55’) is on Deer Creek east of Nevada City. It is a small hydroelectric development (0.83 MW) as well as irrigation storage reservoir. It is reached from Scotts Flat Road off of State Route 20 east of Nevada City. There are four campgrounds on the reservoir. Just downstream, Lower Scotts Flat Reservoir (N39º16’ W120º57’) delivers water to the Deer Creek canal.

North Yuba River

New Bullards Bar Reservoir, Yuba County Water Agency (N39º24’ W121º8’), is partially on Tahoe and Plumas National Forest lands. There is a powerhouse at the reservoir and also at Colgate. The Colgate powerhouse (N39º20’ W121º11’) receives water from the Colgate Tunnel from New Bullards Bar Reservoir diversion dam just downstream of New Bullards Bar Reservoir. The reservoir is part of the Yuba River Development Project. On the upper end of the reservoir on Deadwood Creek (N39º32’ W121º6’) is a hydro plant operated by Yuba County Water Agency.

Slate Creek Diversion Dam, South Feather Water and Power Agency, Plumas National Forest (N39º37’ W121º3’) sends water to Sly Creek Reservoir in the Feather River watershed.

Salmon Creek Hydroelectric Project, Henwood Associates, Tahoe National Forest (N39º37’ W120º36’) is a small hydro plant off of State Route 49 north of Sierra City.

Middle Yuba River

Bowman Project of Nevada Irrigation District

Jackson Meadows Reservoir, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º30’ W120º33’) is on the Middle Yuba River in the Tahoe National Forest. It can be reached from Forest Highway 7 west of State Route 89.

Milton Reservoir, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º31’ W120º35’), is on the Middle Yuba River below Jackson Meadows Dam and diverts water through a tunnel to Bowman Lake on Canyon Creek, a tributary to the South Yuba River. It occupies Tahoe National Forest lands.

Wilson Creek Diversion Dam, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º31’ W120º35’) is on the Milton-Bowman aqueduct near Milton Reservoir and diverts creek water into the aqueduct and tunnel for delivery to Bowman Lake. It occupies Tahoe National Forest lands.

Yuba River Development Project of Yuba County Water Agency

Our House Diversion Dam, Yuba County Water Agency (N39º25’ W121º0’), transfers water into the Lohman Ridge Diversion Tunnel which leads to the Log Cabin Diversion Dam. It occupies Tahoe National Forest lands.

Log Cabin Diversion Dam, Yuba County Water agency (N39º26’ W121º3’), is on Oregon Creek. It transfers water to the Camptonville Diversion Tunnel which leads to New Bullards Bar Reservoir. The facility is on Tahoe National Forest lands.

South Yuba River

Bowman Project of Nevada Irrigation District

Jackson Lake, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º28’ W120º34’) is at the headwaters of Jackson Creek, a tributary to Bowman Lake. It provides storage for the Bowman hydroelectric project and is partially located on Tahoe National Forest lands.

French Lake, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º25’ W120º32’), is on Canyon Creek and provides storage for release into Bowman Lake. It is on Tahoe National Forest lands.

Faucherie Lake, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º26’ W120º34’), is on Canyon Creek downstream from French Lake and provides storage for release into Bowman Lake. It is partially on Tahoe National Forest lands.

Sawmill Lake, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º27’ W120º36’), is on Canyon Creek downstream from Faucherie Lake. It provides storage for release into Bowman Lake and is partially on Tahoe National Forest lands.

Bowman Lake, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º27’ W120º39’) is on Canyon Creek downstream from Sawmill Lake. It stores water for release to the Bowman powerhouse downstream of the dam. It is partially on Tahoe National Forest land.

Bowman-Spaulding Conduit Diversion Dam (N39º27’ W120º40’) is on Canyon Creek immediately downstream from Bowman Lake and diverts water to the Spaulding No. 3 Project of Pacific Gas & Electric.

Spaulding No. 3 Development of Pacific Gas & Electric

Upper Rock Lake and Lower Rock Lake (both N39º26’ W120º37’) are on Texas Creek and are Pacific Gas & Electric storage reservoirs. The water is diverted at the Texas Creek Diversion Dam to the Bowman-Spaulding Conduit and Spaulding Reservoir for hydroelectric generation.

Cuthbertson Lake, Tahoe National Forest (N39º25’ W120º37’), is on a tributary to Texas Creek and is a storage reservoir for Pacific Gas & Electric. The water is diverted at the Texas Creek Diversion Dam to the Bowman-Spaulding Conduit and Spaulding Reservoir for hydroelectric generation.

Upper Lindsey Lake, Middle Lindsey Lake, and Lower Lindsey Lake (N39º25’ W120º38’) are on Lindsey Creek, a tributary to Texas Creek, and are storage reservoirs for Pacific Gas & Electric. Lower Lindsey Lake is on Tahoe National Forest land. The water is diverted at the Texas Creek Diversion Dam to the Bowman-Spaulding conduit and Spaulding Reservoir for hydroelectric generation.

Texas Creek Diversion Dam, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º24’ W120º40’), sends water from Texas Creek to the Bowman-Spaulding Conduit and through the Spaulding No. 3 powerhouse on Spaulding Reservoir.

Feeley Lake and Carr Lake, Tahoe National Forest (both N39º24’ W120º38’), are Pacific Gas and Electric storage reservoirs on Lake Creek, a tributary to Fall Creek. Their water is diverted at the Fall Creek Diversion Dam (N39º23’ W120º40’), to the Bowman-Spaulding Conduit and through the Spaulding No. 3 powerhouse on Spaulding Reservoir.  The conduit also captures water from Clear Creek Diversion (N39º23’ W120º41’) and Trap Creek Diversion (N39º22’ W120º41’).  All three diversions are on Tahoe National Forest land and owned by Nevada Irrigation District.

Blue Lake, Pacific Gas & Electric (N39º21’ W120º38’), is on Rucker Creek and is a storage reservoir. Water is released downstream to Rucker Lake.

Rucker Lake, Pacific Gas & Electric (N39º21’ W120º39’), is on Rucker Creek and is a storage reservoir in the Tahoe National Forest. Water from Rucker Creek is diverted by the Rucker Creek Diversion, Nevada Irrigation District (N39º21’ W120º40’), to the Bowman-Spaulding Conduit and through the Spaulding No. 3 Powerhouse on Spaulding Reservoir.

Fuller Lake, Pacific Gas & Electric (N39º21’ W120º39’) is a re-regulating reservoir at the end of the Bowman-Spaulding Conduit and regulates water inflow into the Spaulding No. 3 Powerhouse on Spaulding Reservoir. It is on Tahoe National Forest land.

Spaulding Reservoir, Pacific Gas & Electric (N39º20’ W120º38’), is on the South Yuba River and is bordered by Tahoe National Forest land.

Spaulding No. 1 and No. 2 Projects of Pacific Gas & Electric

White Rock Lake, Pacific Gas & Electric (N39º25’ W120º23’), on White Rock Creek near Mount Lola, is the uppermost storage reservoir and is on Tahoe National Forest land. Releases from White Rock Lake flow into North Creek and Fordyce Lake.

Meadow Lake, Pacific Gas & Electric (N39º24’ W120º30’) is on an unnamed tributary and releases water to Fordyce Lake. It is on Tahoe National Forest land.

Lake Sterling, Pacific Gas & Electric (N39º21’ W120º29’) is south of Fordyce Lake on Bloody Creek and is a storage reservoir on Tahoe National Forest land. Releases flow into Fordyce Lake.

Fordyce Lake, Pacific Gas & Electric (N39º23’ W120º30’) receives water from White Rock, Meadow,and Sterling lakes and releases water into Fordyce Creek, which feeds Lake Spaulding. Some Tahoe National Forest land as well as private lands border Fordyce Lake, which is mostly surrounded by private lands.

Kidd Lake, Pacific Gas & Electric (N39º19’ W120º26’) is a storage lake south of I-80, which releases to the South Yuba River and Lake Spaulding downstream.

Upper Peak Lake and Lower Peak Lake, Pacific Gas & Electric (both N39º18’ W120º26’) are storage lakes mapped as ‘Cascade Lakes’ which release to Cascade Creek, a tributary to the South Yuba River and Lake Spaulding. Both include Tahoe National Forest lands.

Lake Spaulding, Pacific Gas & Electric (N39º20’ W120º38’) is on the South Fork Yuba River. Two additional dams are required to prevent overflow into Jordan Creek. Tahoe National Forest lands border the upper sections of the reservoir. Two powerhouses below Spaulding Dam divert water to the Bear River or Deer Creek basins. Spaulding No. 1 Powerhouse discharges to the Drum Canal while Spaulding No. 2 Powerhouse discharges to the South Yuba Canal for transfer to the Bear River.

Part 2D describes the national trail system, wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers, and state and local sites in the Tahoe-Eldorado area of the Sierra Nevada forests.

Sierra Nevada Forests, Part 2A, American River and Tahoe Areas

Sierra Nevada map 1

Continuing south in the Sierra Nevada forests, the American River watershed drains the western slopes and the Truckee River drains the eastern slopes. This post describes some of the features in this landscape. Part 2 describes the Mother Lode and Lake Tahoe areas encompassed by general areas of the Eldorado and Tahoe National Forests, the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, and the northern Toiyabe National Forest portion within the Sierra Nevada. Drainages include the American, Carson, Truckee, and Yuba Rivers, with some of the Mokelumne and Walker Rivers. Part 2A describes the National Historic Landmarks, National Natural Landmarks, and National Forest system.

National Historic Landmark

Donner Camp Sites National Historic Landmark, Donner Memorial State Park and Tahoe National Forest, California, commemorates three overwintering sites of the ill-fated Donner emigrant party, who were trapped by an early snow while traversing the California Trail. Donner Memorial State Park (N39º19’ W120º15’) is 1,750 acres on I-80 west of Truckee. It includes two overwintering sites of the Donner party, the sites of the Murphy Cabin and Breen-Keseberg Cabin. The park also has a museum interpreting the site and 2.5 miles of hiking trails and monuments commemorating all California emigrants. The Alder Creek Camp site, Tahoe National Forest (N39º23’ W120º11’) is on State Route 89 north of Truckee and is located at the Donner Camp Picnic Area. The Donner Camp National Recreation trail is an interpretive trail with displays. A third camp site, the Reed-Graves Cabin, is near I-80 east of the state park on private land. The Donner Party consisted of 87 California-bound emigrants from Illinois. They arrived late at the Sierra Nevada, on October 31, 1846, and were unable to cross the Sierra due to deep snow. Unable to proceed, they camped at the foot of the crest. During the winter, 48 survived, most infamously by eating human flesh. During the winter, two thirds of the men, one third of the children, and one fourth of the women survived.

National Natural Landmarks

Two National Natural Landmarks have been recognized in the Sierra Nevada. Many other sites are likely eligible. Emerald Bay State Park, California (N38º57’ W120º6’) is 1,400 acres on the west shore of Lake Tahoe on State Route 89. The unique embayment was gouged by glaciers and is listed as an outstanding example of glacial geology. The bay and shoreline to the north are part of a state underwater park. Black Chasm Caverns, Sierra Nevada Recreation Corporation, California (N38º26’ W120º38’) is a three-level cave with the best helictite formations in the west. It is located on Pioneer Volcano Road in Pine Grove, California, off of State Route 88 in the Mother Lode. Cavern tours and an above-ground nature trail are at the site.

National Forest (NF) System

The National Forest system in the American River and Tahoe areas includes the Eldorado, Tahoe, and Toiyabe National Forests as well as th Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit; experimental forests, watersheds, and research facilities; and the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, administered by the Forest Service. The trail is further described under the National Trails System section. Wilderness areas and national recreation trails within the national forest system are also described separately.

Eldorado National Forest

Eldorado National Forest, California, is 670,000 acres in the Mother Lode crossed from east to west by US Route 50 and State Route 88 (Carson Pass National Scenic Byway). The Desolation Wilderness and Mokelumne Wilderness (both described separately) are within the forest. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (described separately) is accessed at Carson Pass in the south and leaves the forest at Miller Meadows (N39º2’ W120º14) in the north.

US Route 50 and Crystal Basin

US Route 50 crosses between Echo Summit (N38º49’ W120º2’) and Pacific (N38º46’ W120º31’). This corridor became the major stage route to California. The Pony Express National Historic Trail, described separately, crosses the forest along the US Route 50 corridor between Echo Summit (N38º49’ W120º2’) and Pollock Pines (N38º46’ W120º35’). The eight-mile section between Strawberry (N38º47’ W120º9’) and Kyburz (N38º46’ W120º20’) is designated as a National Recreation Trail. Phillips Station (N38º49’ W120º5’) was an 1826 stage stop in a grassy meadow, across from the current Sierra at Tahoe ski resort entrance. Twin Bridges (N38º48’ W120º8’) is below a 1,000-foot-high rock face called Lover’s Leap. Horsetail Falls in the Desolation Wilderness is also visible from this area. The area between the wilderness and Twin Bridges is the Pyramid Creek Geological Area (N38º49’ W120º7’). Pyramid Creek from Avalanche Lake to US Route 50 is considered eligible for the National Wild and Scenic River system. Just downhill from Pyramid Creek confluence with the South Fork American River is the Strawberry Pony Express Station. The area to the north and south of US 50 in the Twin Bridges-Strawberry area is a major summer hiking area, with trails to waterfalls, lakes, and meadows. To the south of US Route 50 and the South Fork American River, Station Creek Research Natural Area (N38º47’ W120º12’) is 750 acres of sugar pine-white fir forest type. The Wrights Lake Turnoff from US Route 50 (Forest Highway 4) follows the route of 1850s roads to Georgetown. South of Wrights Lake, the Wrights Lake Bog Botanical Area (N38º50’ W120º13’) is 65 acres. Wrights Lake is the trailhead for Desolation Wilderness.

Continuing downhill on US Route 50, Kyburz (N38º46’ W120º18’) was an inn and toll house with a historic lodge; Sugarloaf House, a stage stop and Pony Express site, is also in this area. South of Kyburz along the Silver Fork American River (N38º42’ W120º12’) is a hiking area. Silver Fork is considered eligible for the National Wild and Scenic River system from the confluence with Caples Creek (N38º41’ W120º11’) downstream to Kyburz (N38º46’ W120º19’). Downstream of the confluence with Silver Fork is Kyburz Diversion Dam (N38º46’ W120º19’) for the El Dorado Irrigation District. The water is routed in the El Dorado ditch to a storage reservoir near Pollock Pines and to Akin Powerhouse, a hydroelectric plant to the north of Pollock Pines. Indian Springs (N38º46’ W120º20’) was a resort hotel in the 1920s and 1930s, which also bottled mineral water for sale. Whitehall (N38º47’ W120º24’) was the site of an 1850s saloon and the beginning of a toll road downhill to Placerville.

Riverton (N38º46’ W120º27’) was a hotel and stage stop in the 1860s. From Riverton, Forest Highway 3 (Ice House Road) leads north to the Crystal Basin Recreation Area, a joint project of Eldorado National Forest and Sacramento Municipal Utility District. The recreation area consists of nine reservoirs with trails and recreational facilities in between. The reservoirs are Rubicon Reservoir, described under the Desolation Wilderness, Buck Island Reservoir (N39º0’ W120º15’, Loon Lake Reservoir (N38º59’ W120º19’), Gerle Creek Reservoir (N38º58’ W120º24’), Robbs Creek Dam (N38º57’ W120º23’), Ice House Reservoir (N38º50’ W120º21’), Junction Reservoir (N38º51’ W120º27’), Camino Reservoir (N38º50’ W120º32’), and Union Valley Reservoir (N38º52; W120º25’), which is the largest. Trailheads in the Crystal Basin lead to the Desolation Wilderness. The South Fork American River from its headwaters near Echo Pass (N38º49’ W120º2’) downstream to Blair Bridge near Pacific House (N38º46’ W120º30’) is considered eligible for the National Wild and Scenic River System.

Further down US Route 50, Bullion Bend (N38º46’ W120º34’) was the site of a stagecoach robbery in 1864. North of Bullion Bend on the South Fork American River, the Peavine Research Natural Area (N38º47’ W120º34’) is 1,100 acres with Pacific ponderosa pine and black oak forests. Year-round hiking areas are south of Pollock Pines at Fleming Meadows (N38º42’ W120º33’) and Cedar Park (N38º43’ W120º36’). Also south of Pollock Pines is Jenkinson Lake (N38º43’ W120º34’), constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation but transferred to the El Dorado Irrigation District in 2003. It adjoins Eldorado National Forest lands. North of Pollock Pines, Slab Creek Reservoir (N38º46’ W120º41’) on the South Fork American River and Brush Creek Reservoir (N38º49’ W120º37’) are operated by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District within the Eldorado National Forest. East of Placerville, the Placerville Nursery (N38º45’ W120º44’) is 150 acres on Fruit Ridge Road. It supplies seedlings to other national forests in California. Also on Carson Road east of Placerville is the Institute of Forest Genetics, described separately.

State Route 88

State Route 88 bisects the forest between Dew Drop (N38º31’W120º29’) and Carson Pass (N38º42’ W119º59’). The California National Historic Trail, Carson Route, crosses the forest from Carson Pass to Amador. The 15-mile section from Caples Lake (N38º42’ W120º4’) to Tragedy Springs (N38º38’ W120º9’) is designated the Carson Emigrant Historic National Recreation Trail. The Carson Pass-Caples Lake area provides trailheads south in the Mokelumne Wilderness and north to places in the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and lakes in the Eldorado National Forest. Just south of Carson Pass, the Round Top Botanical and Geological Area (N38º41’ W119º59’) includes a wealth of rare plants and geologic formations such as Elephants Back in the Mokelumne Wilderness. Caples Lake is operated by the El Dorado Irrigation District as part of the El Dorado hydroelectric project. Caples Creek (N38º43’ W120º8’) downstream of Caples Lake is considered eligible for the National Wild and Scenic River System.

The trail to Thunder Mountain (N38º40’ W120º5’) starts on State Route 88 west of Kirkwood. It passes volcanic formations called the Two Sentinels. Silver Lake (N38º39’ W120º7’) is also a trailhead for day hiking to glacial lakes such as Shealor, Granite, and Hidden Lakes. Silver Lake is operated by the El Dorado Irrigation District as part of the El Dorado hydroelectric project.

South of Carson Pass, Meadow Lake (N38º36’ W119º58’), Twin Lake (N38º36’ W119º56’), Lower Blue Lake (N38º37’ W119º56’), and Upper Blue Lake (N38º37’ W119º57’), are operated by Pacific Gas & Electric as hydroelectric storage reservoirs for the North Fork Mokelumne River. Salt Springs Reservoir (N38º30’ W120º11’), Bear River Reservoir (N38º34’ W120º13’), and Lower Bear River Reservoir (N38º32’ W120º15’) are also PG&E hydroelectric projects on Eldorado National Forest lands. The North Fork Mokelumne River between the Mokelumne Wilderness (N38º31’ W120º10’) and Tiger Creek (N38º27’ W120º29’) is protected as the 12,000-acre Mokelumne Archaeological Area. There are more than 100 prehistoric and historic archaeological sites of high integrity in this area. The North Fork is also eligible for the National Wild and Scenic River System.

Georgetown Approaches

The northwestern portion of the Eldorado NF is approached from Georgetown.  Off of State Route 193 at the junction of Meadowbrook Road and Bear Creek Road, the Traverse Creek Botanical Area (N38º52’ W120º49’) protects 220 acres of rare chaparral plants growing on serpentine hills, which contain high levels of magnesium, nickel, and chromium. Trails have been constructed through the serpentine chaparral. Further to the south is the Rock Creek Botanical Area (N38º49’ W120º46’) is 420 acres of similar habitat. To the east of Georgetown, Stumpy Meadows Reservoir (N38º54’ W120º36’), operated by the Georgetown Public Utilities District, occupies Eldorado National Forest lands. The Leonardi Falls Botanical Area (N38º55’ W120º32’) is 219 acres near the Rubicon River. Little Crater Geological Area (N39º1’ W120º34’) is 210 acres and Big Crater Geological Area (N39º1’ W120º36’) is 125 acres, both overlooking the Middle Fork of the American River. The Rubicon River is eligible for the National Wild and Scenic River system from its confluence with the Middle Fork American River (N39º0’ W120º44’) upstream to Hell Hole Reservoir (N39º3’ W120º24’). Hell Hole Reservoir and Ralston Afterbay (N39º0’ W120º45’) on the Middle Fork American River are operated by the Placer County Water Agency on Eldorado National Forest lands.

Institute of Forest Genetics

Institute of Forest Genetics, California (N38º44’ W120º44’) is 234 acres on Carson Road east of Placerville in the Mother Lode planted to various conifers. The Eddy Arboretum has the world’s largest collection of pines, with 78 species of pine and 24 species of firs.

Onion Creek Experimental Forest

Onion Creek Experimental Forest, California (N39º17’ W120º21’) is south of Donner Summit in the North Fork American River watershed. Permanent forest study plots of red fir and white fir forests are used for research by the University of California, Berkeley and the Pacific Southwest Research Station. It borders the Tahoe National Forest, the North Fork Reserve, and the Chickering American River Reserve of the UC Natural Reserve System.

Sagehen Experimental Forest

Sagehen Experimental Forest, California (N39ᵒ26’ W120ᵒ14’) is 8,100 acres north of Truckee on State Route 89 bordered by the Tahoe National Forest and Independence Lake Preserve of the Nature Conservancy. It is the home of the Sagehen Creek Field Station of University of California, Berkeley. It includes the entire watershed of Sagehen Creek, which is a glacial cirque with virgin red fir forests.  Over 50 years of hydrologic data has been collected in the lodgepole pine, Jeffrey pine, ponderosa pine, and fir forests upstream from Stampede Reservoir. The forest is known for its diversity and variety of springs and spring habitats. The Mason Fen Botanical Area is within the forest. This wet spongy peatland area has a moss and sedge mat. The willow thickets in the Sagehen Creek valley are part of the Northern Sierra Meadows Important Bird Area. The willow thickets host Lincoln’s sparrow, Wilson’s warbler, and willow flycatcher.

Part 2B continues with the national forest system and then describes the reservoir and hydroelectric power systems of the American River-Truckee River area of the Sierra Nevada forests ecoregion.

 

Palouse Grasslands, Part 3

Other federal sites in the Palouse grasslands are operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Okanagan and Grand Coulee (Scabland) areas

Coffeepot Lake Recreation Area, BLM, Washington (N47˚30’ W118˚33’) is a 900-acre area on a lake framed by basalt cliffs, located west of Harrington.

Escure Ranch, BLM, Washington (N47˚1’ W117˚58’) is a 13,000-acre hiking and nonmotorized recreation area in a channeled scablands area of grassland, basalt cliffs, and glacial potholes. It includes Towell Falls on Rock Creek.  It is located south of Sprague near Revere.

Hot Lake Research Natural Area, BLM, Washington (N48˚58’ W119˚29’), is an 80-acre saline lake with no outlet in the Okanogan River Valley west of Osoyoos Lake housing brine shrimp and microbial mats of blue-green algae and green sulfur bacteria. Rare plants include red glasswort and saltgrass.

Palmer Mountain Recreation Area, BLM, Washington (N48˚51’ W119˚36’) is a hiking and mountain biking area north of Loomis, with aspen groves and grasslands.

Telford Recreation Area, BLM, Washington (N47˚42’ W118˚24’) is a hiking and horseback riding area on US Route 2 between Davenport and Creston.

Twin Lakes Recreation Area, BLM, Washington (N47˚32’ W118˚30’) is a 14,000-acre area of channeled scablands west of Harrington, with a diversity of habitat types.

The Blue Mountain Slopes (Washington and Oregon)

Echo Meadows, BLM, Oregon (N45˚43’ W119˚18’) is part of the seven-unit Oregon Trail ACEC of BLM and includes a remnant section of the Oregon Trail west of Echo and north of State Route 203.

Grande Ronde Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), BLM Baker Resource Area, Washington, is a 17,000-acre area along the lower Grande Ronde River, extending from the Snake River near Lime Hill and Mount Wilson (N46˚4’ W116˚57’) west along the south side of the Grande Ronde to the Oregon state line (N46˚0’ W117˚22’), and including the Goosenecks National Natural Landmark (see). The Grande Ronde River is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system.

Joseph Creek ACEC, BLM, Oregon-Washington (N46˚0’ W117˚5’) includes the canyon of Joseph Creek, which is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system.

State and local sites in the Palouse grasslands include state parks and wildlife management areas. Two sites were previously described. Steptoe Butte State Park, Washington and Kamiak Butte County Park, Whitman County, Washington are described under National Natural Landmarks. Steamboat Rock State Park, Washington and Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park, Washington are part of the Grand Coulee National Natural Landmark. Lewis and Clark Trail State Park, Washington (N46º17’ W118º4’) is a site on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Centennial Trail State Park, Washington, is part of the Spokane River Centennial Trail National Recreation Trail.

Okanagan Valley

Christie Memorial Provincial Park, British Columbia (N49˚21’ W119˚34’) is a lakeside recreation area within the city of Okanagan Falls, providing access to Skaha Lake.

Field’s Lease Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N49˚3’ W119˚31’) is 4 ha just west of Route 97 at the north end of Osoyoos and was established to protect a representative example of shrub-steppe ecosystem.

Hayne’s Lease Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N49˚5’ W119˚31’), which includes part of the Osoyoos Oxbows on the Okanagan River, is an Important Bird Area for western yellow-breasted chat and western screech owl. The 100-ha area is located at the north end of Osoyoos Lake on Radio Transmitter Road.

Hayne’s Point Provincial Park, British Columbia (N49˚1’ W119˚27’) is 38 ha on a peninsula in Osoyoos Lake just north of the international border on Route 97, providing lakeside recreation.  A marsh interpretive trail provides a bird viewing platform for canyon wren, marsh wren, and white-throated swift.

Inkaneep Provincial Park, British Columbia (N49˚14’ W119˚32’), is 16 ha in two units on the Okanagan River north of Oliver off Route 97.  One unit has antelope brush vegetation and the other has cottonwoods and riparian vegetation, providing bird watching opportunities.

Keremeos Columns Provincial Park, British Columbia (N49˚15’ W119˚7’) is northeast of Keremeos off of Route 3A. The hexagonal basalt columns are viewed by a hike across sagebrush grasslands on private property. The columns are on private land and are not within the park.

Kickininee Provincial Park, British Columbia (N49˚33’ W119˚38’) is a series of three overlooks of Okanagan Lake on Route 97 north of Penticton.

Mahoney Lake Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N49˚17’ W119˚35’) protects a saline meromictic (non-mixing) lake listed on the world registry of meromictic lakes. Below six meters, the lake includes a layer of purple sulfur bacteria. The reserve is on Green Lake Road off Route 97 six km south of Okanagan Falls.

Okanagan Falls Provincial Park, British Columbia (N49˚20’ W119˚35’) includes riparian habitat for birds and bats along the Okanagan River. It is located off of Route 97 at Okanagan Falls.

Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park, British Columbia (N49˚26’ W119˚33’) is 489 ha adjacent to Penticton. It is a grassland area grading into ponderosa pine-Douglas fir forest. It is known as a premier rock climbing area, with 80-m cliffs.

South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area, British Columbia includes four units along Route 3 at Richter Pass west of Osoyoos.  Mount Kobau (N49˚7’ W119˚41’) includes a 5-km loop trail and rare lichens. Kilpoola (N49˚3’ W119˚33’) includes Blue Lake, a saline water body which harbors a layer of rare purple sulfur bacteria. The areas around Kilpoola Lake and Chopaka West (N49˚1’ W119˚41’) are IBAs for Lewis’s woodpecker and sage thrasher. Chopaka East (N49˚2’ W119˚37’) also has rare lichens.

South Okanagan Wildlife Management Area, British Columbia (N49˚6’ W119˚33’) is part of the Osoyoos Oxbows Important Bird Area for western yellow-breasted chat and western screech owl. The WMA includes 900 ha of scattered tracts of former river channel areas of the Okanagan River lined with water birch woodlands. The areas are along Route 97 between Okanagan Falls and Osoyoos.

Riverside Breaks Natural Area Preserve, Washington (N48˚41’ W119˚30’) is a native shrub-steppe grassland ecosystem on the Okanogan River south of Tonasket.  Vegetation is antelope bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass.

Scotch Creek Wildlife Area, Washington, consists of five units in the Palouse grasslands and Okanogan dry forests. Pogue Mountain Unit (N48˚26’ W119˚37’) is a 1,200-acre shrub-steppe area on Green Lake northwest of Omak. Scotch Creek Unit (N48˚32’ W119˚40’) is 8,700 acres of shrub-steppe habitat between Omak and Conconully in the Lime Belt. Tunk Valley Unit (N48˚32’ W119˚24’) is shrub-steppe habitat 12 miles northeast of Omak.

Sun-Oka Beach Provincial Park, British Columbia (N49˚34’ W119˚38’) provides lakeside recreation on Okanagan Lake and also has an old growth cottonwood forest. It is located 3 km south of Summerland on Route 97.

Trout Creek Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N49˚33’ W119˚42’) is on the southern edge of Summerland and is a 75-ha tract with ponderosa-pine and Douglas-fir vegetation in a semiarid grassland setting.

Vaseux Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia (N49˚18’ W119˚33’) is on Vaseux Lake along Route 97, an Important Bird Area for Lewis’ woodpecker, western screech owl, and yellow-breasted chat. This area is south of Okanagan Falls on Route 97. The area is also a bighorn sheep viewing location.

Vaseux Protected Area, British Columbia (N49˚17’ W119˚29’) is a 2,000-ha grassland area that grades to ponderosa pine-Douglas fir at higher elevations.  It is used by California bighorn sheep. Within the area, McIntyre Canyon and Vaseux Creek provide viewing opportunities.

White Lake Grasslands Protected Area, British Columbia (N49˚17’ W119˚34’) is in four tracts west of Route 97 and the Okanagan River between Okanagan Falls and Oliver. Rare grassland wildlife is protected in the 3,740-ha area.

Grand Coulee and Scabland Area

Alta Lake State Park, Washington (N48º1’ W119º56’) is a natural lake at the foot of the mountains just south of Pateros west of the Columbia River.

BeeBe Springs Wildlife Area, Washington (N47˚49’ W119˚59’) is on US Route 97 north of the Lake Entiat crossings and east of Chelan.

Bridgeport State Park, Washington (N48º1’ W119º37’) is on the north side of Rufus Woods Lake on the Columbia River. The 748-acre park has four miles of trails and unusual volcanic haystack formations.

Chelan Wildlife Area, Washington, consists of four units in the Palouse grasslands.  Chelan Butte Unit (N47˚48’ W120˚5’) is 9,000 acres off of US Alternate Route 97 south of Chelan. A reintroduced population of bighorn sheep is present. The Entiat Unit (N47˚47’ W120˚11’) is 9,800 acres of scattered tracts west of Alternate US Route 97 west of the Columbia River, extending between Chelan and Entiat.  Navarre Coulee is a featured area. Pateros Unit (N48˚5’ W119˚56’) is 2,000 acres north of Pateros off US Route 97 and consists of bitterbrush and shrub-steppe habitat. Swakane Unit (N47˚33’ W120˚19’) is 11,300 acres adjoining the Wenatchee National Forest and US Alternate Route 97 north of Wenatchee.

Earthquake Point, administered by Lake Chelan State Park, Washington (N47º43’ W120º13’) is the site of an 1872 rock slide that blocked the Columbia River briefly. It is on US Route 97A north of Entiat.

Lake Chelan State Park, Washington (N47º52’ W120º12’) is a lakeside recreation area with two miles of trails ten miles west of Chelan.

Daroga State Park, Washington (N47º43’ W120º12’) is a reservoir recreation area is 18 miles north of Wenatchee on Lake Entiat on US Route 97. There are two miles of trails through shrub-steppe grassland habitat.

Entiat Slopes Natural Area Preserve, Washington (N47˚39’ W120˚15’) is a mountainous grassland to the south of the confluence of the Entiat and Columbia Rivers. The area is managed for the presence of Thompson’s clover and long-sepal globe mallow.

Pearrygin Lake State Park, Washington (N48º29’ W120º9’) is a 1,200-acre lakeside recreation area in the Methow Valley near Winthrop. There are three miles of trails.

Spring Creek Canyon Natural Area Preserve, Washington (N47˚45’ W117˚53’) is a remnant Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine forest in a basalt canyon on State Route 231 south of Long Lake Dam.  The canyon is surrounded by shrub-steppe habitats.

Steamboat Rock State Park, Washington (N47˚52’ W119˚8’), is a basalt butte 800-feet high created during an ice age flood.  It is 11 miles south of Electric City on State Route 155 on Banks Lake and part of Grand Coulee NNL, described previously.

Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park, Washington (N47˚36’ W119˚22’), is one of the great geological wonders of North America, consisting of a 400-foot dry waterfall 3.5 miles wide, plunging into a number of lakes.  The falls were created during an ice age flood and are part of the Grand Coulee NNL, described previously.

Two-Steppe Natural Area Preserve, Washington (N47˚36’ W119˚38’) is a 400-acre high-quality shrub-grassland area on US Route 2 east of Moses Coulee.

The Palouse (Eastern Washington and Idaho)

Coeur d’Alene River Wildlife Management Area, Idaho, is an IBA that contains undisturbed wetlands that support waterfowl and shorebirds.  A recreational bike path traverses the 5,000-acre area, which extends from Harrison (N47˚27’ W116˚47’) upstream 25 miles to Rose Lake (N47˚35’ W116˚28’).  Another area of the WMA in the Palouse grasslands is along Coeur d’Alene Lake, within the St. Joe River embayment at Round Lake (N47˚22’ W116˚43’).

Columbia Plateau Trail State Park, Washington is a developing rail-trail which will extend 130 miles from Pasco to Cheney and Spokane.  A future connection is proposed to Sacajawea State Park along the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam.  The south end begins at the Ice Harbor trailhead (N46˚17’ W118˚51’), then goes through Kahlotus (N46˚38’ W118˚33’), Washtucna (N46˚45’ W118˚19’), Benge (N46˚55’ W118˚6’), and Lamont (N47˚12’ W117˚55’) to Fish Lake trailhead (N47˚31’ W117˚31’) north of Cheney. The trail passes through Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

Iron Horse State Park, Washington, is a linear rail-trail also called the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. It extends from Cedar Falls (south of North Bend near Seattle) to Vantage on the Columbia River.  Future extensions will be to the Idaho border at Tekoa.

Palouse Falls State Park, Washington (N46º40’ W118º14’), is an ice age flood site on the Palouse River with a 200-foot waterfall.

Riverside State Park, Washington is 14,000 acres along the Spokane River and Little Spokane River downstream from Spokane. The Nine Mile Reservoir is included in the state park. There are 55 miles of trails. The lower end of the Centennial Trail State Park (see) crosses the property.  The Spokane House historic site (N47º47’ W117º32’) is an early 19th century fur trading post and the oldest log structure in Spokane.  There are also pictographs.  Other major park sites are at Bowl and Pitcher (N47º42’ W117º30’) Nine Mile Recreation Area, and Griffith Spring (N47º46’ W117º28’).

Steptoe Battlefield State Park, Washington (N47º14’ W117º22’), is the site of an 1858 battle of the US Army with members of the Spokane, Palouse, and Coeur d’Alene nations. It is located at Rosalia.

Winchester Lake State Park, Idaho (N46˚14’ W116˚37’) is 400 acres located at Winchester on US Route 95 south of Lewiston.  Trails circle the lake and the Wolf Research and Education Center is located here.

The Blue Mountain Slopes

Chief Joseph Wildlife Management Area, Washington (N46˚3’ W117˚0’) is in extreme southeastern Washington in the canyon of the Grande Ronde River, including the Goosenecks National Natural Landmark Area.  It also includes areas in the Joseph Creek Canyon. The Shumaker Unit of the WMA (N46˚3’ W117˚6’) is on the north side of the Grande Ronde River canyon east of Shumaker Creek.

Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon (N45˚29’ W120˚28’) is an 18,000-acre nature park is on Route 206 at the John Day River crossing and includes recreational developments on state and BLM lands.

Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Idaho (N45˚56’ W116˚48’) is 78,000 acres occupying much of the area along the Snake River between Lewiston and the Salmon River.  It provides overviews of the Snake River canyon from mountain lookouts and is an elk mitigation area for Dworshak Reservoir.

Fields Springs State Park, Washington (N46º5’ W117º11’) is on the boundary between the Palouse Prairie and Blue Mountains.  Seven miles of trails offer panoramic views of Hells Canyon and the Wallowa Mountains.

Hells Gate State Park, Idaho (N46˚21’ W117˚3’), is 1,000 acres on Lower Granite Reservoir south of Lewiston.  It features basaltic columns derived from lava flows and is also the site of a prehistoric Nez Perce village used for lamprey fishing, part of the Nez Perce National Historical Park. A network of trails has been constructed. Jet boat rides to Hells Canyon originate here.

Private areas in the Palouse grasslands include five sites.Lawrence Memorial Grassland Preserve, The Nature Conservancy, Oregon, is described under National Natural Landmarks.

Antelope Creek Basin, Oregon (N44˚54’ W120˚44’) is private ranchland east of Antelope on State Route 218, supporting the highest density of Swainson’s hawk in Oregon. It is an IBA.

Clear Lake Ridge Preserve, The Nature Conservancy, Oregon (N45˚26’ W116˚57’) is 3,500 acres on the Little Sheep Creek Highway between Joseph and Imnaha, adjacent to the Wallowa National Forest. Features include a basalt plateau, a 3,000-foot-deep canon along Devils Gulch, three lakes, and native prairie.

Lindsay Prairie Preserve, The Nature Conservancy, Oregon (N45˚36’ W119˚39’) is a rare grassland on 400 acres off of Juniper Road in Morrow County. The grassland contains bluebunch wheatgrass and Sandberg’s bluegrass.

White Lake, British Columbia (N49˚18’ W119˚38’) is a small alkaline lake surrounded by sagebrush grassland.  It is an IBA for the sage thrasher, western screech owl, and yellow-breasted chat. It is between Oliver and Penticton.

 

National Trail System in North Central Rockies Forests

The National Trail System in the North Central Rockies forests include three national scenic trails (NSTs) and two national historic trails (NHTs). There are 45 National Recreation Trails.

The Continental Divide NST traverses the North Central Rockies forests with sections maintained by the Deerlodge National Forest (NF), Helena NF, Lewis and Clark NF, Blackfeet Indian Reservation (N48˚7’ W113˚15’), and Glacier NP. Key sites in the Deerlodge NF are Pipestone Pass south of Butte (N45˚51’ W112˚26’), Homestake Exit on I-90 (N45˚55’ W112˚25’), Our Lady of the Rockies (N46˚0’ W112˚27’), Konda Trailhead off of I-15 on Forest Road 9422 (N46˚7’ W112˚29’), Champion Pass (N46˚14’ W112˚35’), and Thunderbolt Mountain (N46˚20’ W112˚27’).  In the Helena NF are MacDonald Pass on US 12 (N46˚33’ W112˚19’), Priest Pass (N46˚37’ W112˚18’), Rogers Pass on State Route 200 (N47˚5’ W112˚22’), Lewis and Clark Pass (N47˚9’ W112˚26’), and The trail continues north into the Scapegoat Wilderness (see), then briefly exits the wilderness at South Fork Sun River in the Lewis and Clark NF (N47˚30’ W112˚54’). It then enters the Bob Marshall Wilderness (see) and exits at Badger Pass (N48˚8’ W113˚3’) and Muskrat Pass (N48˚9’ W113˚6’).  Heading north in the Lewis and Clark NF, it passes North Badger Creek (N48˚15’ W113˚8’) and enters Glacier NP at Marias Pass on US Route 2 (N48˚19’ W113˚21’). Heading north in Glacier NP, the trail passes Railroad Creek (N48˚24’ W113˚17’) and enters the Blackfeet Indian Reservation at East Glacier (N48˚27’ W113˚15’). The trail returns to Glacier NP and passes Two Medicine Lake (N48˚29’ W113˚21’), Pitamaken Pass (N48˚31’ W113˚37’), Triple Divide Peak (N48˚34’ W113˚31’), Virginia Falls (N48˚40’ W113˚37’), Granite Park Chalet (N48˚46’ W113˚46’), and Fifty Mountain (N48˚51’ W113˚52’), before ending at Waterton Lake (N49˚0’ W113˚54’).

The Lewis and Clark NHT sites in the North Central Rockies forests at Lolo Pass, Lolo Trail, Weippe Prairie, Canoe Camp, and Lewis and Clark Long Camp are described under the Nez Perce National Historical Park. One trail site not part of the park is Lewis and Clark Pass, Helena National Forest, Montana (N47˚9’ W112˚26’), which was crossed by the Lewis party (not the Clark party, which crossed at a different pass) on the return trip from Oregon.  The pass is on a trail following a short cut from Travelers Rest to Great Falls which follows the Blackfoot River.  It is reached by taking Forest Highway 293 north to Alice Creek station, then a one-mile hike along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.

Nez Perce NHT, Idaho and Montana, includes sites associated with the flight of the Nez Perce from Idaho. In the North Central Rockies forests are Dunwell’s Ferry (N46˚24’ W116˚11’), Weippe (described under Nez Perce National Historical Park (NPNHP), Heart of the Monster (described under NPNHP), Southern Nez Perce Trail at Stites (N46˚5′ W115˚59’), Clearwater Battlefield and Kooskia Attack (N46˚8’ W115˚59’), the attack on Chief Looking Glass’s Camp (described under NPNHP), Powell Ranger Station—a traditional fishing spot in Clearwater NF(N46˚51’ W114˚43’), Packer Meadows for camas gathering in Clearwater NF (N46˚38’ W114˚33’), Lolo Hot Springs (N46˚44’ W114˚32’), and Fort Fizzle in Lolo NF (N46˚45’ W114˚10’), where the army failed to stop the tribe when they went around a barricade.

Pacific Northwest NST (PNT) passes through Glacier NP, Flathead National Wild and Scenic River, Flathead NF, Kootenai NF, Lake Kookanusa, Kaniksu NF, and Colville NF in the North Central Rockies forests ecoregion. The current route is mapped at the Pacific Northwest Trail Association website (www.pnt.org). The Glacier National Park segment was designated as a National Recreation Trail (NRT).  From east to west, this segment passes Waterton Lake (48˚59’ W113˚54’), Brown Pass (48˚53’ W113˚52’), and Kintla Lake (N48˚57’ W114˚20’). In the Flathead NF, the trail passes Thoma Lookout (N48˚57’ W114˚33’) and Tuchuck Mountain (N48˚58’ W114˚40’).

In the Kootenai NF, the PNT passes Weasel Meadow (N48˚59’ W114˚43’), Mount Wam (N48˚57’ W114˚49’), Poorman Mountain (N48˚59’ W114˚55’), Bluebird Basin (N48˚57’ W114˚56’), and Mount Barnaby (N48˚55’ W114˚56’), then descends to the town of Eureka and Lake Kookanoosa (N48˚54’ W115˚10’). West of Lake Kookanoosa, the trail climbs Webb Mountain and passes Thirsty Mountain (N48˚49’ W115˚23’), Purcell Summit, Mount Henry (N48˚53’ W115˚31’), Fish Lakes (N48˚52’ W115˚35’), Yaak River (N48˚54’ W115˚40’), Garver Mountain (N48˚56’ 115˚48’), Pete Creek Meadows (N48˚58’ W115˚50’), and Northwest Peak (N48˚58’ W115˚58’).

In the Kaniksu NF, the PNT passes Canuck Peak (N48˚56’ W116˚1’), enters Idaho near Canuck Pass, Ruby Ridge (N48˚55’ W116˚6’), Moyie River (N48˚55’ W116˚11’), Bussard Mountain (N48˚54’ W116˚14’), and Brush Lake (N48˚54’ W116˚20’), then crosses the Kootenai River (N48˚54’ W116˚24’).

West of the Kootenai River, the PNT climbs to Parker Peak (N48˚52’ W116˚35’)on the Selkirk Crest and continues across Long Mountain (N48˚50’ W116˚37’) and Pyramid Pass (N48˚49’ W116˚37’), then descends to Lion Creek (N48˚46’ W116˚41’) before leaving the national forest. The trail crosses Lookout Mountain (N48˚46’ W116˚46’) on Idaho state lands, then reenters the national forest at Upper Priest Lake (N48˚47’ W116˚53’) before entering Washington and the Salmo Priest Wilderness, where the trail passes Shedroof Mountain (N48˚56’ W117˚3’) and Crowell Ridge (N48˚54’ W117˚11’).

In the Colville NF, the PNT passes Boundary Dam at Metaline Falls (N48˚51’ W117˚22’), Beaver Mountain, and Abercrombie Mountain (N48˚55’ W117˚27’), before dropping into Northport on the Columbia River (N48˚55’ W117˚47’). The trail reenters the Colville NF and passes Elbow Lake (N48˚57’ W117˚59’) and Pierre Creek before exiting the North Central Rockies ecoregion at the Kettle River (N48˚55’ W118˚12’).

The Trans-Canada Trail is a national trail effort across Canada. In the North Central Rockies forests, the trail has been completed across British Columbia, mostly using old railroad lines. From west to east, the trail passes Paulson (N49˚12’ W118˚7’), Castlegar (N49˚19’ W117˚40’), Trail (N49˚6’ W117˚43’), Salmo (N49˚11’ W117˚11’), Nelson (N49˚29’ W117˚16’), Gray Creek Pass (N49˚37’ W116˚39’), Kimberley (N49˚39’ W115˚58’), Cranbrook (N49˚32’ W115˚45’), Elko (N49˚18’ W115˚7’), Fernie (N49˚31’ W115˚4’), and Sparwood (N49˚44’ W114˚54’) before passing into Alberta at the Upper Elk River area (N50˚1’ W114˚55’). The 25-mile section from Kimberley to Cranbrook is known as the North Star Rails to Trail.

National Recreation Trails

Through the efforts of the Forest Service, numerous national recreation trails (NRTs) have been designated in the national forest lands of the northern Rockies ecosystem. There is also a trail managed by the Bureau of Land Mangement. The following list is by mountain range.

Along the Continental Divide

In the easternmost ranges along the Continental Divide, Haystack Mountain NRT, Deerlodge NF, Montana (N46˚9’ W112˚20’) begins at the end of Forest Road 1538 four miles north of the Elk Park Exit on I-15. The 3.6-mile trail provides views of the Boulder River Valley. Mount Helena Ridge NRT, Helena NF, Montana (N46˚35’ W112˚4’) is a six-mile trail that begins in Mount Helena City Park and ends at Park City Trailhead in Helena NF.

In the Whitefish and Salish Ranges and Southward Extensions

In the Whitefish Range, Danny On Memorial NRT, Flathead NF, Montana (N48˚29’ W114˚21’) is located at Big Mountain Ski Resort north of Whitefish off of US Route 93. The trail leads four miles from the base of the chairlift to the summit of Big Mountain, where there is an environmental education center. Hikers can ride to the summit and hike down, or plan a route with loops involving other trails. Ralph L. Thayer Memorial NRT, Flathead NF, Montana, follows the crest of the Whitefish Range for 17 miles, providing views of the Flathead Valley and Glacier NP.  The south trailhead is at Werner Peak (N48˚35’ W114˚26’) and the north trailhead is at Red Meadow Lake (N48˚45’ W114˚36’). Whitefish Divide/Smoky Range NRT, Flathead NF, Montana, follows the crest of the Smoky Range for 11 miles, beginning on Forest Road 316 (Canyon Creek Road ) (N48˚31’ W114˚19’) and ending at Forest Road 803 (N48˚34’ W114˚13’). Both forest roads intersect North Fork Road north of Columbia Falls.

In the Swan Range, Holland Falls NRT, Flathead NF, Montana (N47˚27’ W113˚35’) is a 1.5-mile, 750-foot climb to a waterfall. It begins on Forest Road 44 at Holland Lake, east of State Route 83 and north of Seeley Lake. Morrell Falls NRT, Lolo NF, Montana (N47˚18’ W113˚28’), is a 2.5-mile trail north of Seeley Lake on Forest Road 4353.

In the Salish Range, Blacktail-Wild Bill NRT, Flathead NF, Montana, is west of Lakeside (US Route 93) on Flathead Lake. It begins off of Forest Road 917 near Blacktail Mountain (N47˚59’ W114˚22’) and ends along Wild Bill Creek on Forest Road 213 (N48˚2’ W114˚26’). It is 12 miles in length.

In the Garnet Range, Garnet Winter NRT, BLM, Montana, is a snowmobile route following existing roads closed in winter, extending from Greenough on State Route 200 (N46˚55’ W113˚26’) south to near Garnet Ghost Town, with 30 miles of trails.

In the Purcell Mountains and Southward Extensions

In the Purcell Mountains, Little North Fork NRT, Kootenai NF, Montana (N48˚45’ W115˚22’) is a one-fourth-mile trail to a 50-foot water fall in a rainforest gorge on the west side of Lake Koocanusa. Pulpit Mountain NRT, Kootenai NF, Montana (N48˚32’ W115˚47’) is a five-mile trail in the Purcell Mountains accessed seven miles east of Troy off of a Forest Service road. Skyline NRT, Kootenai NF, Montana extends 22 miles in the Purcell Mountains from the West Fork Quartz Creek trailhead (N48˚29’ W115˚39’) to the junction of Yaak River and Seventeen Mile Roads (N48˚41’ W115˚50’), passing Quartz Mountain, Skyline Mountain, and Arbo Mountain. Vinal Creek Trail #9/Purcell Summit NRT, Kootenai NF, Montana (N48˚52’ W115˚35’) is a 25-mile trail that passes Turner Falls on the way to Mount Henry lookout tower.

In the Cabinet Mountains, Baldy Lookout-Lake Trail, Lolo NF (N47˚37’ W114˚50’), is north of Plains, Montana off of Forest Highway 1025; this three-mile trail passes Baldy Mountain and ends at Baldy Lake.

In the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, Caribou Ridge NRT, Coeur d’Alene NF, Idaho (N47˚36’ W116˚40’) extends from a trailhead on Forest Road 438 off of State Route 97 to Mount Coeur d’Alene. The five-mile trail gains 1,100 feet in elevation. Nearby, Mineral Ridge NRT, BLM, Idaho, is a three-mile nature trail located three miles south of I-90 on State Route 97. Mineral Ridge overlooks Lake Coeur d’Alene; the trail connects Beauty Bay on Lake Coeur d’Alene with Forest Road 1575 in the Coeur d’Alene National Forest.

North of I-90, English Point NRT, Coeur d’Alene NF, Idaho (N47˚47’ W116˚’) is on Hayden Lake just north of Coeur d’Alene and includes two loops for a total of six miles. Chilco Mountain NRT, Coeur d’Alene and Kaniksu NFs, Idaho (N47˚54’ W116˚31’) is reached via US Route 95 and Bunco Road (Forest Road 332). It follows the ridgetop of Chilco Mountain for six miles. Coeur d’Alene River NRT, Coeur d’Alene NF, Idaho (southeast end N47˚53’ W116˚8’ and northwest end N47˚58’ W116˚13’) follows the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River past Cathedral Rocks for 15 miles. Independence Creek NRT, Coeur d’Alene NF, Idaho, is 13 miles, extending from the confluence of Independence Creek with Teepee Creek on Forest Highway 6310 (N47˚53’ W116˚13’) west to Weber Saddle on Forest Road 322 (N47˚54’ W116˚25’) southeast of Lakeview. Jackass Ridge Snowmobile NRT, Coeur d’Alene NF, Idaho, is a complex of trails on forest roads extending for 31 miles between Kellogg (N47˚34’ W116˚4’), Osburn, Twomile Saddle, and Dobson Pass (N47˚32’ W115˚53’). Trout Creek Loop NRT, Coeur d’Alene and Kaniksu NFs, Idaho-Montana, is 22 miles, beginning west of Trout Creek on Forest Road 214 (N47˚48’ W115˚43’) and climbing to a cirque at the state line at Ninety Three Mile Lake (N47˚46’ W115˚50’) in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, before looping back to the trailhead. The Coeur d’Alene Mountains continue east into Montana. Iron Mountain-Cascade Falls NRT, Lolo NF, Montana (N47˚18’ W114˚49’), is a one-mile trail is at Cascade Campground on State Route 135 (St. Regis-Paradise National Scenic Byway).  The Iron Mountain Trail continues southward after the falls.

In the St. Joe Mountains, Big Creek NRTs, St. Joe NF, Idaho (N47˚21’ W116˚7’) are 16 miles of interconnected trails between the St. Joe River and the Coeur d’Alene divide. Trails include Big Creek, East Fork Big Creek, Cabin Ridge, Daugherty Hill, Bronson Meadows, Elsie Peak, the Coeur d’Alene Divide, and Wallace St. Joe Divide.  Trailheads are along Forest Highway 537 and Forest Road 1970, both north of the St. Joe River (Forest Highway 50). Nelson Ridge NRT, St. Joe NF, Idaho, extends nine miles from Forest Highway 50 just east of Avery on the St. Joe River (N47˚15’ W115˚47’) to Squaw Creek on the North Fork St. Joe River.

In the Palouse Corridor of the Clearwater Mountains, administered by the Nez Perce-Clearwater forest supervisor, White Pine NRT, St. Joe NF, Idaho (N47˚1’ W116˚40’) is on the White Pine Scenic Byway (State Route 6) east of Potlatch. South of the town of Elk River, Elk Creek Falls NRT, St. Joe NF, Idaho (N46˚44’ W116˚10’) is off of State Route 8 and Forest Road 1452B. A two-mile trail leads to three falls which drop a total of 140’ into a canyon with columnar basalt formations. Idaho Giant Cedar NRT, St. Joe NF, Idaho (N46˚53’ W116˚7’) is one-half mile long and is reached from Forest Highway 382 and Forest Road 4652 north of Elk River. The state champion giant cedar is 18’ in diameter.

In the Clearwater Mountains south of the St. Joe River, Marble Creek NRT, St. Joe NF, Idaho, is a trail system extending for 27 miles, beginning at Marble Creek (N47˚7’ W116˚5’) on Forest Highway 321 south of Forest Highway 50, and passing Delaney Creek, Grandmother Mountain, Mark Butte, Orphan Point, Breezy Point, and Lookout Mountain.

In the Lochsa River corridor along US Route 12 in the Clearwater Mountains, Colgate Licks Nature NRT, Clearwater NF, Idaho (N46˚28’ W114˚56’), extends for one mile on US 12 at Westover Campground, passing lodgepole and ponderosa pine forests and open meadows with warm springs. Lochsa River Historic NRT, Clearwater NF, Idaho, extends for 16 miles uphill and parallel to US 12 from Split Creek (N46˚14’ W115˚25’) upstream to Boulder Flat (N46˚20’ W115˚19’). Major Fenn NRT, Clearwater NF, Idaho (N46˚14’ W115˚29’), is a one-half mile nature trail at a picnic area on US Route 12 on the Lochsa River.

In the Selway River area of the Clearwater Mountains south of US Route 12, Anderson Butte NRT, Nez Perce NF, Idaho, is a 15-mile trail following ridgetops four miles east of Elk City beginning on Forest Road 1809 (N45˚51’ W115˚23’) and extending north to Forest Highway 443 (N45˚59’ W115˚25’) near Horse Ridge. The trail includes forest and open meadows. East Boyd-Glover Roundtop NRT, Nez Perce NF, Idaho, is 23 miles, beginning at the Boyd Campground (N46˚5’ W115˚27’) on the Selway River, climbing Roundtop (N46˚8’ W115˚23’), and descending to Glover Campground (N46˚4’ W115˚22’), also on the Selway River on Forest Road 223. Meadow Creek NRT, Nez Perce NF, Idaho, begins at a trailhead near Selway Falls (N46˚2’ W115˚17’); the trail follows Meadow Creek 15 miles south to the Meadow Creek Guard Station (N45˚33’ W115˚14’).

In the Bitterroot Mountains, Blue Mountain NRT, Lolo NF, Montana, is a nine-mile equestrian and hiking trail beginning just west of Missoula on US Routes 12-93 (N46˚50’ W114˚5’) and ending at Blue Mountain fire lookout (N46˚49’ W114˚11’). Also, the Blue Mountain Nature Trail NRT, Lolo NF, Montana, is a one-half mile trail at the same location. Skookum Butte NRT, Clearwater and Lolo NFs, Idaho and Montana (N46˚40’ W114˚23’), is a 1.7-mile hike along the Idaho-Montana line to overlooks of Lolo Creek and the Graves Range. It is accessed from Forest Highway 451 off of US Route 12 about 11 miles west of Lolo. Stateline NRT, Clearwater, Lolo and St. Joe NFs, Idaho-Montana is an 18-mile hike along the crest of the Bitterroots southwest of Superior, Montana.  Diamond Lake Campground (N47˚9’ W115˚10’), reached via Forest Roads 342 and 7843, provides one access. Other access points, all south of Superior on I-90, are Forest Highway 342 (N47˚9’ W115˚13’), Missoula Lake on Forest Highway 320 (N47˚4’ W115˚7’), and Hoodoo Pass on Forest Highway 250 (N46˚59’ W115˚2’). South of Missoula, Como Lake Loop NRT, Bitterroot NF, Montana (N46˚3’ W114˚16’) is a seven-mile loop trail in the Bitterroot National Forest west of US Route 93 north of Darby.

Selkirk Range

The Selkirk Range includes mountains in the northern Idaho Pandhandle and northeastern Washington. In Idaho, Chipmunk Rapids NRT, Kaniksu NF, Idaho (N48˚26’ W116˚55’) is off of State Route 57 south of Priest Rapids Lake. It is a 10-mile ski trail. Hanna Flats NRT, Idaho, is on Forest Road 313 west of the Priest Lake airstrip in Hanna Flats Botanical Area (N48˚34’ W116˚59’). The Hanna Flats NRT winds four miles among old growth western red cedar and rare ferns. Lakeshore NRT, Kaniksu NF, Idaho, follows the western shore of Priest Lake from Beaver Creek (N48˚44’ W116˚52’) south to Reeder Bay (N48˚39’ W116˚53’).  It passes near Bottle and Teepee Creek RNAs.

In the Washington portion of the Selkirk Range, Pass Creek-Grassy Top NRT, Colville and Kaniksu National Forests, Washington (N48˚48’ W117˚8’) follows the ridge south from Pass Creek Pass for eight miles to Grassy Top, which features meadows on a 6,000-foot mountain. It is accessed from Forest Road 22 from Sullivan Lake. Shedroof Divide NRT, Salmo Priest Wilderness and Colville NF, Washington extends along the ridge from Pass Creek Pass (N48˚48’ W117˚8’) north 22 miles to the Salmo Trailhead (N48˚57’ W117˚4’).Sullivan Lake NRT, Colville NF, Washington (N48˚49’ W117˚17’) is a four-mile trail on the eastern side of Sullivan Lake, connecting two campgrounds and offering bighorn sheep viewing opportunities.

To be continued with wild and scenic rivers, wilderness areas, and refuges

Northern Mixed Grasslands and Northern Short Grasslands

This area is found in Canada (Alberta) and United States (Montana) and consists of two ecoregions.

  1. Northern mixed grasslands (NA810)

The northern mixed grasslands of Alberta define an ecotone between the tallgrass prairie and boreal forests with aspen, shrubs, bur oak, and mixed tallgrass and short grass.  In the Cypress upland of Alberta, there is montane vegetation of lodgepole pine. The area is a rich waterfowl production area, with glacial pothole lakes. This ecoregion includes glacial terminal moraines, which have a hummocky physiography.

In Devil’s Coulee, Alberta, are late Cretaceous-age hadrosaur eggs.  A study of dinosaur eggs and bird eggs based on the eggs at Devil’s Coulee indicated that the greatest similarity was with these types of dinosaurs, adding support to the hypothesis that troodontids and oviraptorids were the ancestors of birds  (Grellet-Tinner and Chiappe 2004).

One World Heritage site in the Northern Mixed Grasslandsis Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump National Historic Site, Alberta (N49˚42’ W113˚39’), 18 km west of Fort Mcleod on Secondary Route 785 and managed by the province of Alberta. For 6,000 years, this site was used by native peoples to kill bison by driving them over a cliff. V-shaped drive lanes channeled herds to near the cliff, and then a stampede was provoked. Wounded animals at the base of the cliff were killed. Deep layers of bison bones indicate the site was used into the 19th century. Trails and interpretive tours are offered by Blackfoot guides.

There are two nationally designated sites in the Northern Mixed Grasslands. Fort Whoop-Up National Historic Site, in Indian Battle Park, City of Lethbridge, Alberta (N49˚42’ W112˚52’) commemorates the 1869 establishment of a trading post by American fur traders.  Because the traders distributed whiskey to the natives, Canada was prompted to establish the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to protect native peoples and bring order to the area. Indian Battle Park is also the location where the Cree and Blackfoot fought in 1870, ending in a Cree defeat.

Stirling National Historic Site, Village of Stirling, Alberta (N49˚30’ W112˚31’) is a self-sufficient Mormon agricultural village established in 1899. Tours are available at the Michelson Farmstead, 1904, a typical farm of the early 20th century.

Provincial and local sites in the Northern Mixed Grasslands ecoregion include natural, paleontological, and reservoir recreation sites.

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta-Saskatchewan (N49˚39’ W110˚0’) is a range of hills that rise 600 m above the surrounding prairies; there are 16 trails which wander through a lodgepole pine forest, through Spruce Coulee, and along prairies.

Devil’s Coulee Dinosaur and Heritage Museum, City of Warner, Alberta (N49˚17’ W112˚13’) offers tours to a nearby hadrosaur nest with embryonic dinosaurs, discovered along the Milk River Ridge in 1987. The Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology manages the site for public use along with the Devil’s Coulee Cooperating Society.

Oldman River Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta (N49˚43’ W113˚27’) is on the west side of Route 2 just north of Fort Macleod, providing river access and camping.

Park Lake Provincial Park, Alberta (N49˚49’ W112˚55’) is a reservoir recreation site with hiking trails and waterfowl viewing.  It is located north of Lethbridge on Range Road 223.

Twin River Heritage Rangeland Natural Area, Alberta (N49˚10’ W112˚20’) is a large hunting area north of Route 501 and west of Route 4 along the Milk River, North Milk River, and Milk River Ridge.

Privately operated sites in the Northern Mixed Grasslands includes the Fort Museum of the North West Mounted Police and First Nations Interpretive Centre, Fort Mcleod, Alberta (N49˚44’ W113˚24’), which commemorates the nearby site of Fort Mcleod and an outpost of the Mounted Police from 1874 to 1878.

Reference

Grellet-Tinner, Gerald and Luis M. Chiappe. 2004. Dinosaur Eggs and Nesting: Implications for Understanding the Origin of Birds.   Pages 185-214 In Feathered Dragons: Studies on the Transition from Dinosaurs to Birds.  Philip J. Currie, ed.  Indiana University Press.

2. Northern short grasslands (NA 811)

This ecoregion includes a broad swath of the Great Plains. Only a small section in Alberta and Montana is described here; the description will be expanded in the future to include areas to the north of the 50th parallel and east of the 110th meridian. This ecoregion is an area of brown glaciated plains with poorly drained lake basins. Some areas are more rolling to hummocky with seasonal pothole lakes, such as the Sweetgrass uplands, a forest grassland complex. Elsewhere the vegetation is dominated by grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass. The shortgrass prarie is the largest grassland ecoregion in North America, notable for its harsh winters, short growing season, severe droughts, and shortgrass vegetation.

Large dams constructed for irrigation storage in this part of the Great Plains have altered spring flood flows downstream from Lake Elwell and Fresno Reservoir. Rood and Mahoney (1995) found that cottonwood seedling recruitment downstream from Tiber Dam (Lake Elwell) has declined since the dam was built. This was attributed to a change in the pattern of water flow downstream. When spring flooding takes place, there is scouring and and gradual flow decline in the floodplain downstream. This creates point and lateral bars which are unvegetated and seedlings can establish themselves. Without flooding, dense grass and shrubs encroach to the water’s edge and the unvegetated bars are not present. Lessia and Miles (1999) found that Russian olive can compete better than cottonwood in this environment and that as old cottonwoods die, they are being replaced by Russian olive.

Another issue with water management in this ecoregion has arisen at Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The natural lake formerly went dry, but today is supplemented by a pump station which captures natural and irrigation drainage from soils that are naturally selenium-rich. The rate of selenium accumulation in sediments is increasing. Selenium will need to be managed to increase the life of the refuge (Zhang and Moore 1997).

There is one site in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network in the northern short grasslands. Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Montana (N47˚40’ W111˚19’) is a 12,000-acre lake and marsh on the western edge of the Great Plains filled with migratory birds. It is an IBA for shorebirds, ducks and Franklin’s gull. It hosts the largest breeding colony of Franklin’s gulls and white-faced ibis in Montana. During wet years the refuge serves as breeding habitat for ducks, coot, American avocet, and phalarope in addition to other shore birds, and in dry years shorebirds utilize mudflats where the lake dries up. Mixed grass prairie birds are also found here, such as Sprague’s pipit, ferruginous hawk, and upland sandpipers. A prairie marsh auto tour winds through the refuge for nine miles, and the Prairie Marsh Boardwalk is a National Recreation Trail. Originally a Bureau of Reclamation project, the refuge receives supplemental water from Muddy Creek via a pipeline and intake near Power (N47˚41’ W111˚42’).

There are three National Historic Landmarks in the Northern Short Grasslands. Fort Benton Historic District, Montana (N47˚49’ W110˚40’) was the head of steamboat navigation on the Missouri River, 2,300 miles from St. Louis, and is considered the birthplace of Montana. It is the oldest continuously occupied Anglo-American settlement in Montana. It was the eastern terminus of a 600-mile-long wagon road to Walla Walla, Washington, where travelers could transfer to boat traffic on the Columbia River, and the terminus of wagon roads to Fort McLeod, Alberta, 250 miles northwest, and Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan, 130 miles northeast.  The fort was established in 1846, initially to serve the fur trade, then entered its period of prominence with the discovery of gold in Helena, Virginia City, and Bannack in the 1860s. The NHL includes historic resources associated with the steamboat era, which lasted from 1860 to 1890. These include:

  • Fort Benton site, 1846, abandoned 1874
  • Fort Benton Blockhouse, 1856, site of storage of buffalo robes for shipping
  • Fort Benton levee, 1860, where ships docked, passengers disembarked, and freight transferred
  • Grand Union Hotel, 1862; and Pacific Hotel, 1883
  • Fort Benton steel truss bridge, 1888, on State Route 15, which provides views of the upper Missouri largely unchanged since the 1880s
  • Fire House and City Hall, 1883 combination building
  • House (1) and businesses (5) associated with the steamboat era

Great Falls Portage, Montana is located both upstream and downstream of present-day Great Falls, Montana. The NHL includes the upper and lower campsites and portage routes; the middle portage route has been obliterated by modern-day Malmstrom AFB and the city of Great Falls. The portage lands in the NHL are privately owned. The lower portage campsite is one mile downstream from the mouth of Belt Creek (N47˚37’ W111˚3’). It includes the campsite, Sulphur Spring, which is opposite of the mouth of Belt Creek, the gorge below Morony Dam, and the portage corridor to the east end of Malmstrom AFB (N47˚30’ W111˚9’). The upper portage includes a site on River Drive, south of Great Falls, on the east bank of the Missouri River (N47˚28’ W111˚18’). The portage corridor extends northeast to Mount Olivet Cemetery (N47˚29’ W111˚15’).

C.M. Russell Museum, Great Falls, Montana (N47˚31’ W111˚17’) includes the home and studio of America’s foremost western artist, Charles M. Russell. He first went to Montana four years after Custer’s last stand and was able to witness Montana territory before it was settled. There were Indian tribes pursuing tranditional activities and large herds of buffalo. He recorded his experiences in paintings, and in 1886 had a painting displayed at the St. Louis Art Exposition. After riding the range, he settled in Great Falls in 1900 to paint full time. In the statuary hall of the U.S. Capitol, a statue of Russell represents the state of Montana. The National Historic Landmark house and studio are included in a larger complex called the C.M. Russell Museum, owned by the City of Great Falls.

There is one National Natural Landmarks in the Northern Short Grasslands. Square Butte, Montana (N47˚28’ W110˚14’) is southeast of Fort Benton off State Route 80. This is considered the best example of banded magmatic rock. The 5,700-foot peak juts 2,400 feet from the surrounding plains and has spires and pinnacles. A herd of mountain goats lives on top, which is accessible by a one-mile hike.

There is one unit of the National Landscape Conservation System in the Northern Short Grasslands. Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, Montana extends into the area from the east. The visitor center is located t Fort Benton at the west end of the monument. The primary floating access is at Coal Banks (N48˚2’ W110˚14’), off US 87 near Virgelle Ferry.

There is one nationally designated site in the Northern Short Grasslands. Aisinai’pi National Historic Site/Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Alberta (N49˚5’ W111˚37’) is the largest concentration of rock carvings and paintings on the Great Plains of North America, with 50 sites protected in the park. The area features unique sandstone formations along the Milk River. Trails lead past hoodoos, and the rock art is only accessible through guided tours.

There are eight Federal and federally licensed reservoirs in the US portion of the Northern Short Grasslands.  Five of these are within a 13-mile stretch of the Missouri River downstream of Great Falls and are operated by PPL Montana (there is a pending sale to NorthWestern Energy) as run-of-the-river hydroelectric facilities. These areas are part of the Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark (see). Black Eagle Dam (N47˚31’ W111˚16’) is two miles northeast of Great Falls and has a generating capacity of 21 MW. The Rivers Edge Trail is maintained along the south shore. The 60-MW Rainbow Dam (N47˚32’ W111˚12’) is six miles northeast of Great Falls. Just below the dam are Rainbow Falls, where the Missouri River drops 47 feet. Cochrane Dam (N47˚33’ W111˚9’) is eight miles northeast of Great Falls and 64 MW in generation capacity. The dam serves as a pedestrian linkage between the north and south shore trails along the reservoir. Ryan Dam (N47˚34’ W111˚7’) is ten miles northeast of Great Falls with 60 MW of generation capacity. A 1913 clubhouse is maintained for public rental. Morony Dam (N47˚35’ W111˚4’) is 48 MW and 15 miles northeast of Great Falls.and

Fresno Dam and Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, Montana (N48˚41’ W110˚0’) is part of the Milk River project. The Milk River headwaters are in Glacier National Park. Water is stored at 6,000-acre Fresno Reservoir for use in irrigation downstream for 165 miles along the Milk River between Havre and the Missouri River. The reservoir supports a fishery for walleye, perch, and northern pike.

Fort Shaw Diversion Dam, Bureau of Reclamation, Montana (N47˚31’ W111˚52’) diverts water from the Sun River into the 12-mile-long Fort Shaw Canal.

Tiber Dam and Lake Elwell, Bureau of Reclamation, Montana (N48˚19’ W111˚6’), is southeast of Shelby and provides flood control, recreation, conservation, rural water supply, and hydropower in a 17,700-acre reservoir.  The project has the potential to provide irrigation but only 3,000 acres have benefitted from irrigation water availability. Fishing for trout is a major recreation activity. The land around the reservoir is noted for unusual sandstone formations.

The National Trail System in the Northern Short Grasslands includes one National Historic Trail and one National Recreation Trail. Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, Montana, includes the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Visitor Center, administered by the Lewis and Clark NF, located in Great Falls adjacent to Giant Springs State Park.  Trail sites in the ecoregion include Great Falls Portage (described above under National Historic Landmarks) and Missouri-Maria’s Confluence, Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument, Montana (N47˚56’ W110˚28’). The confluence represented a key decision point on the upstream journey. Both rivers were similar in size. Lewis and Clark paused at the junction to determine which stream was likely the Missouri and scouted upstream on both rivers. When they came to the Great Falls of the Missouri, they knew that they had correctly chosen the Missouri flowing to the southwest. Had they chosen the Marias River, the expedition might have failed, since they would not have been able to cross the Rockies in time before winter set in, and the Blackfeet Indians would likely have been more hostile than tribes to the southwest.

The National Recreation Trail in the Northern Short Grasslands is Prairie Marsh Boardwalk, Benton Lake NWR, Montana (N47˚41’ W111˚22’), a 0.2-mile walk on the refuge auto tour route.

The National Wildlife Refuge system in the Northern Short Grasslands includes Benton Lake NWR, described under Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, and numerous waterfowl production areas (WPAs), listed below. In the I-15 corridor are ten areas. Arod Lakes WPA (Eyraud Lakes), Montana (N47˚59’ W112˚2’) is 800 acres west of Brady and home to nesting American white pelicans, making it an Important Bird Area. Blackhurst WPA, Montana (N48˚49’ W111˚47’) is a 300-acre grassland and wetland area north of Ferdig, which is east of I-15, Exit 379. Brown WPA, Montana (N48˚55’ W111˚51’) is a 260-acre wetland and grassland area northeast of I-15, Exit 389. Brumwell WPA, Montana (N47˚47’ W111˚40’) is 250 acres of wetlands adjacent to I-15 between exits 302 and 313. Cemetary WPA, Montana (N48˚52’ W111˚51’) is a 100-acre wetland area east of I-15, Exit 389. Danbrook WPA, Montana (N48˚59’ W111˚49’) is a 300-acre wetland complex east of I-15 and just south of the US-Canadian border. Dunk WPA, Montana (N48˚56’ W111˚49’) is an 80-acre wetland complex east of I-15 near the Canadian border. Ehli WPA, Montana (N48˚59’ W111˚47’) is a 500-acre wetland and grassland complex on the US-Canada border eight miles east of I-15. Hartelius WPA, Montana (N47˚31’ W111˚31’) is five miles north of Vaughn on Neuman School Road, consisting of 300 acres of wetlands and grassland. Long Lake WPA, Montana (N48˚54’ W111˚50’) is a 600-acre wetland complex in the Willshaw Flats east of I-15 south of the Canadian border.

The remaining five areas are scattered tracts. Big Sag WPA, Montana (N47˚36’ W110˚44’) is 350 acres of wetlands and grasslands in the former spillway channel (the Big Sag) for glacial Lake Great Falls at Highwood. Furnell WPA, Montana (N48˚52’ W111˚18’) consists of 2,000 acres of native grasslands and scattered wetlands at the foot of Gold Butte in the Sweet Grass Hills. Hingham Lake WPA, Montana (N48˚36’ W110˚31’) is two miles northeast of Rudyard off of US Route 2.  It consists of 280 acres of wetlands and native grassland. Kingsbury Lake WPA, Montana, (N47˚34’ W110˚21’), consists of a large 1,400-acre brackish wetland and grassland in a 3,700-acre tract southwest of Geraldine off State Route 80.  It was part of the spillway for glacial Lake Great Falls when the Missouri River was blocked by a glacier. Peterson WPA, Montana (N48˚51’ W112˚14’) is a 100-acre wetland and grassland complex north of Cut Bank. Savik WPA, Montana (N47˚57’ W112˚19’) is an alkaline wetland and native grassland area on U.S. 89 south of Bynum.

Other federal sites in the Northern Short Grasslands include Kevin Rim, BLM, Montana (N48˚48’ W112˚2’), an escarpment overlooking the Kevin Sunburst Oil Field on I-15, providing habitat for the ferruginous hawk, making it an IBA.

Lonesome Lake Watchable Wildlife Area, BLM Havre Field Office, Montana (N48˚15’ W110˚13’) is 14,500 acres northwest of Big Sandy and contains prairie potholes, shallow lakebed, and shortgrass prairie which attracts shorebirds. It is an IBA for ferruginous hawk, northern harrier, and long-billed curlew. There are also hundreds of stone circle archaeological sites.

Maria’s River, Montana, BLM Havre Field Office, Montana is a canoe river with access points at Sullivan Bridge south of Cut Bank (N48˚29’ W112˚14’), Pugsley Bridge south of Chester (N48˚17’ W111˚3’),and Moffat Bridge south of Chester (N48˚16’ W111˚0’).

The Sweetgrass Hills, BLM Havre Field Office, Montana (N48˚54’ W111˚7’) rise 3,000 feet above the prairie and are an island of mountainous forested habitat for elk and deer.

State and Local sites in the Northern Short Grasslands include natural and cultural sites in Alberta and Montana. First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park, Montana (N47˚29’ W111˚32’) is a mile-long 200-foot cliff containing 18 feet of compacted buffalo remains at the base. This was the largest bison cliff jump in North America, located north of Ulm and west of Great Falls.

Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N47˚40’ W112˚3’) is 11,500 acres on US 89 north of Fairfield, managed for waterfowl and raptors.  The area is noted for thousands of pintail, tundra swan, snow geese, Franklin’s gull, and shorebirds, making it an IBA.

Fresno Reservoir Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N48˚44’ W110˚9’) is 2,677 acres of native prairie on the western side of the reservoir at the northern entrance of Chain of Lakes Coolee.

Giant Springs State Park, Montana (N47˚32’ W111˚14’) is one of the largest freshwater springs in the country, at 156 MGD. It flows into the Missouri River just east of Great Falls. The park is adjacent to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center.

Kennedy Coulee Ecological Reserve, Alberta (N49˚1’ W110˚44’) is in a remote area along the US-Canadian border in southeastern Alberta, adjoining Milk River Natural Area, east of Aden and west of Wild Horse. It is available for hiking.

Marias River Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N48˚28’ W112˚3’) is 5,845 acres on the Marias River ten miles west of the I-15 crossing, exit 358.  It is managed for deer and waterfowl.

Milk River Natural Area, Alberta (N49˚2’ W110˚41’) is a hiking area in badlands along the Milk River.  It is in a remote area along the US-Canada border east of Aden and west of Wild Horse.

Onefour Heritage Rangeland Natural Area, Alberta (N49˚8’ W110˚16’along Route 41, N49˚1’ W110˚26’ on the US-Canadian border, and N49˚1’ W110˚49’ west of Kennedy Coulee) is in three units north and west of Wild Horse.

Pakowki Lake Provincial Bird Sanctuary, Alberta (N49˚19’ W110˚57’) is an intermittent playa lake and sand dune-wetland complex on Secondary Route 885 which attracts congregations of waterfowl such as pintail, dowitchers, and stilt sandpiper. It is an Important Bird Area.

Red Rock Coulee Natural Area, Alberta (N49˚39’ W110˚52’) is a hiking and wildlife viewing area off Route 887.  Distinctive red rocks litter the area.

References

Lessia, Peter and Scott Miles. 1999. Russian Olive Invasion into Cottonwood Forests Along a Regulated River in North-Central Montana.  Canadian Journal of Botany 77:1077-1083.

Rood, Stewart B. and John M. Mahoney.  1995. River Damming and Riparian Cottonwoods Along the Marias River, Montana.  Rivers 5:197-207.

Zhang, Yiqiang and Johnnie N. Moore. 1997.  Controls on Selenium Distributionin Wetland Sediment, Benton Lake, Montana.  Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 97:323-340.

 

 

Montana Valley and Foothill Grasslands, Part C

State and Local Sites in the Montana Valley and Foothill Grasslands. This post is the final in the series on Montana Valley and Foothill Grasslands and covers state, local and private sites focused on natural history. They are organized according to the valley where they are located.

The Blackfoot River Valley is upstream and to the east of Missoula. Aunt Molly Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N46˚55’ W113˚1’) is 1,184 acres located where Cut Off Road crosses the Blackfoot River south of Route 200 in the Nevada Valley. It is managed for native fish recovery and restoration of wetlands along the river. Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N47˚4’ W113˚20’) is 43,761 acres northeast of the junction of State Routes 83 and 200 managed as winter range for elk. Nevada Lake Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N46˚48’ W112˚48’) is located on State Route 141 north of Nevada Lake in the Nevada Valley. It is managed for winter range for elk and mule deer. Salmon Lake State Park, Montana (N47˚6’ W113˚24’) is a lakeside recreation area located on State Route 83 south of Seeley Lake.

The Clark Fork Valley is west of the Continental Divide and extends from Butte downstream to Missoula. Traveler’s Rest State Park, Montana, was previously described under National Historic Landmarks. Council Grove State Park, Montana (N46˚55’ W114˚10’), is in Grass Valley just west of Missoula on an island in the Clark Fork River. This is where the Hellgate Treaty was negotiated between the US Government and the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Orielle Indians to establish the Flathead reservation. The state park is on Mullan Road. Fort Owen State Park, Montana (N46˚31’ W114˚6’), is a one-acre site north of Stevensville which commemorates Montana’s first permanent Euro-American settlement and first Catholic church. Fleecer Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N45˚47’ W112˚45’ and N46˚0’ W112˚48’) is a grassland area west of Butte and adjacent to I-15 at Divide. Frenchtown Pond State Park, Montana (N47˚1’ W114˚15’) is a lake recreation site is on I-90, west of exit 89 on the North Frontage Road. Milltown State Park, Montana (N46˚52’ W113˚53’), was developed following a dam removal at Milltown, exit 109 on I-90 just east of Missoula. The site is 500 acres and includes hiking trails and interpretation on the Lake Missoula glacial floods. Spotted Dog Wildlife Management Area, Montana, (N46˚30’ W112˚40’) is 38,000 acres northeast of Deer Lodge on Rocky Ridge between I-90 and US 12. Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area, Montana, (N46˚11’ W112˚48’) is a 1,600-acre waterfowl area at exit 201 on I-90

an extensive trail system in and around the City of Missoula, including trails along the Clark Fork River downtown, Mount Jumbo (N46˚53’ W113˚57’), North Hills (N46˚53’ W113˚59’), Tower Street (N46˚52’ W114˚4’), and Mount Sentinel (N46˚51’ W113˚58’). The Glacial Lake Missoula shoreline is visible in the area and is a scenic highlight of the trail system. .

The south shores of the Flathead Lake area are another grassland habitat. Big Arm State Park, Montana (N47˚49’ W114˚19’), is a lakeside recreation area on Flathead Lake, southwest shore. Finley Point State Park, Montana (N47˚45’ W114˚5’), is a lake recreation area on a peninsula at the south end of Flathead Lake. Ninepipe Wildlife Management Area (N47˚28’ W114˚7’), a 3,880 acre area of numerous prairie potholes northeast and southwest of the reservoir. Pablo Wildlife Management Area (N47˚38’ W114˚10’, 416 acres) adjoins the Pablo NWR, mostly on the north. Both Ninepipe and Pablo areas are managed consistent with adjacent national wildlife refuges.

Missouri River Valley south of Gates of the Mountains is an extensive area of grasslands.  The major tributaries of the Missouri are included.Bannack State Park, and Missouri Headwaters State Park, Montana, were described previously under National Historic Landmarks, while Beaverhead Rock State Park and Clark’s Lookout State Park,, Montana, were described under the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Black Sandy State Park, Montana (N46˚45’ W111˚53’), is a reservoir recreation area on Hauser Reservoir northeast of Helena. Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N46˚21’ W111˚31’), is 5,100 acres at the upper end of Canyon Ferry Reservoir, where the Missouri River flows into the lake. Four large diked ponds at the upper end of the reservoir contain islands which support American white pelican, cormorants, gulls, and terns, making the area an IBA. The dikes were constructed to reduce blowing dust from reservoir drawdown areas. Gravelly-Blacktail Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N44˚54’ W112˚17’), is an 18,000-acre area on Blacktail Deer Creek southeast of Dillon and west of the Snowcrest Range. Lake Helena Wildlife Management Area (N46˚42’ W111˚58’), on the west end of Lake Helena, is 175 acres managed for waterfowl and is an IBA. Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, Montana (N45˚50’ W111˚52’), is the largest known limestone caverns in the Northwest located on the Jefferson River canyon and accessible from State Route 2 west of Three Forks.

Madison Buffalo Jump State Park, Montana (N45˚48’ W111˚28’) is east of the Madison River and was used for 2,000 years to run buffalo off of a limestone cliff.  It is reached south from Exit 283 on I-90 (Logan). Madison-Wall Creek Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N45˚3’ W111˚42’), a 7,000-acre grassland area on the west side of the Madison River adjoining Beaverhead NF and the Gravelly Range. Robb-Ledford Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N45˚0’ W112˚10’), is a 28,000-acre grassland on the west side of the Snowcrest Range. Spring Meadow Lake State Park, Montana (N46˚37’ W112˚5’), is located on Country Club Avenue west of Helena and features a trail circling the lake. Willow Creek Reservoir (Harrison Fishing Access Site), Montana (N45˚42’ W111˚42’) is off of US Route 287 south of Three Forks. The irrigation district reservoir is an IBA for waterfowl and grassland birds.

On the Rocky Mountain front are extensive wildlife management areas.Beartooth Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N46˚57’ W111˚50’), is a 32,000-acre area on the north end of the Big Belt Mountains and east side of Holter Lake. Black Creek Heritage Rangeland, Alberta (N49˚55’ W114˚11’) is north of the Oldman River and west of Route 22, including Whaleback Ridge. Blackleaf Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N48˚0’ W112˚40’) is 10,000 acres of winter range for elk and mule deer and summary habitat for black and grizzly bear. It is located on the Rocky Mountain front west of Bynum. Bob Creek Wildland Provincial Park, Alberta (N49˚58’ W114˚17’) is an OHV, hiking and hunting area in the Livingstone Range north of the Oldman River and accessible from Township Road 104a on the north side of the Oldman River west of Route 22. Dome Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N45˚15’ W110˚49’), is a 4,800-acre elk wintering range in the Paradise Valley and adjacent mountains just north of Yellowstone National Park. Dutch Creek Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta (N49˚54’ W114˚24’) is a hiking and camping area on Route 940 on the Oldman River. Jensen Reservoir Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta (N49˚20’ W112˚54’) is south of Magrath on Jensen Dam Road and provides reservoir recreation. Judith River Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N46˚53’ W110˚18’), is a 5,000-acre elk winter range on the east side of the Little Belt Mountains.

Lundbreck Falls Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta (N49˚35’ W114˚13’) is on the Crowsnest River adjacent to Route 3. The river drops 12 m over a waterfall into a canyon. Maycroft Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta (N49˚18’ W114˚9’), is on the west side of Route 22 at the Oldman River crossing. Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta (N49˚34’ W113˚54’) provides bird watching opportunities and reservoir recreation on Route 785 north of Pincher Creek. Route 510 provides access to the north shore. The park includes all property around the reservoir upstream to Todd Creek (N49˚36’ W114˚7’) and the Castle River Wildlife Area on Route 3 at the Castle River crossing (N49˚33’ W114˚2’). Oldman River North Provincial Recreation Area (N49˚57’ W114˚26’) is a camping and hiking area west of Route 940 near the British Columbia border. Outpost Wetlands Natural Area, Alberta (N49˚0’ W113˚29’) is an extensive wetland on the US-Canadian border between Chief Mountain and Carway adjacent to Police Outpost Provincial Park. Payne Lake Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta (N49˚6’ W113˚38’ is a reservoir recreation area located between Mountain View and Waterton Lakes NP and offering wildlife viewing and hiking. Police Outpost Provincial Park, Alberta (N49˚0’ W113˚28’), is on the US-Canadian border between Chief Mountain and Carway and offers reservoir recreation, wildlife viewing, and hiking.

Remington Carriage Museum Provincial Historic Site, Alberta (N49˚12’ W113˚18’) is located on Route 2 (Main Street) in Cardston, exhibiting 270 horse-drawn carriages from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, making it the largest collection of horse-drawn transportation. Ross Lake Natural Area, Alberta (N49˚7’ W112˚54’), is a hunting area located two miles south of Ross Lake and west of Route 62. St. Mary Reservoir Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta (N49˚22’ W113˚7’) is a reservoir recreation area at St. Mary Dam on Route 505 north of Cardston. The park includes the dam tailwater, the lower right bank, and an island in the reservoir. The reservoir is an Important Bird Area for California gull, with a colony of 2,000 nests, and American white pelican. Sluice Boxes State Park, Montana, includes a 7.5-mile trail following an old railroad grade through Belt Creek Canyon, featuring cliffs and ledges. The trail extends from Riceville on US 89 (N47˚13’ W110˚56’) south to the Logging Creek Bridge on Forest Highway 839 in the Lewis and Clark NF (N47˚8’ W110˚56’).

 Smith River State Park, Montana, is the site of a 59-mile-long river float beginning at Camp Baker (N46˚48’ W111˚11’) and ending at the Eden Bridge (N47˚14’ W111˚23’).  The river gorge cuts through the Little Belt Mountains. Camp sites are provided in the Lewis and Clark and Helena NFs. Smith River Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N46˚43’ W 111˚10’) is 3,312 acres along the Smith River north of Fort Logan managed for mule deer winter range. Sun River Wildlife Management Area, Montana (N47˚35’ W112˚38’), is 19,771 acres west of Augusta and south of the Sun River. It includes the Sawtooth Ridge and grasslands to the east.

Beatrice Taylor Field Station, Montana State University (N47˚49’ W112˚26’), is on the Willow Creek Anticline, the bone bed containing the richest dinosaur nesting site in North America, commonly called Egg Mountain. Fossil fragments from juvenile, embryonic, hatchling, and adult duckbill dinosaurs are found at this location. This is not a public access site. Tower Rock State Park, Montana (N47˚11’ W111˚49’), is a 400-foot rock formation on the Missouri River noted by Lewis and Clark. It is located on I-15, exit 250 at Hardy. Waterton Reservoir Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta (N49˚20’ W113˚41’) is a reservoir recreation area on Route 505. Woolford Provincial Park, Alberta (N49˚11’ W113˚11’) is east of Cardston on Township Road 30a off Route 503 and features hiking trails in a riparian cottonwood forest.

Private sites in the Montana Valley and Foothill Grasslands include hot springs and conservation organization areas. Boulder Hot Springs, Montana (N46˚12’ W112˚6’) is south of I-15 Exit 164 off State Route 69. Bozeman Hot Springs, Montana (N45˚41’ W111˚11’) is on U.S. 191 ten miles west of Bozeman, with nine soaking pools. Chico Hot Springs, Montana (N45˚20’ W110˚33’) is in the Paradise Valley off US 89, 35 miles north of Yellowstone National Park. Fairmont Hot Springs, Montana (N46˚2’ W112˚49’) is west of Butte at Exit 211 on I-90. Jackson Hot Springs, Montana (N45˚22’ W113˚24’) is in the Big Hole Valley on State Secondary Route 278. Norris Hot Springs, Montana (N45˚34’ W111˚41’), has soaking pools on State Route 84 in the Madison River valley. White Sulphur Hot Springs, Montana (N46˚33’ W110˚54’) is on US 12-89 in the Smith River valley.

Crown Butte Preserve, The Nature Conservancy, Montana (N47˚26’ W111˚56’), is an undisturbed native grassland on a mountain rising 900 feet above the prairie near state route 200 south of Simms. Madison Valley, Montana (N45˚14’ W111˚45’ north to N45˚26’ W111˚41’ (Ennis Lake)), contains riparian cottonwood and willow habitats bordered by shortgrass prairie. It is an IBA for bald eagle, willow flycatcher, American redstart, and red-naped sapsucker. Ennis Lake contains major waterfowl concentrations including common loon. Pine Butte Swamp Preserve, Nature Conservancy, Montana (N47˚52’ W112˚33’). The 100,000-acre preserve is run as a ranch resort. It is the largest wetland complex on the Rocky Mountain front and a grizzly bear stronghold.

Ronan Rough-Legged Hawk Roost, Montana (N47˚31’ W114˚2’) is on the eastern side of the Mission Valley on private lands near Ronan within the boundaries of the Flathead Reservation.  The largest known roost of rough-legged hawks is located here. The hawks are attracted to large numbers of voles in the valley. The site is an IBA. Safe Harbor Marsh Preserve, Nature Conservancy, Montana (N47˚47’ W114˚9’) is a low elevation marsh connected to Flathead Lake, located north of Polson. The site is an IBA. Sun Ranch, Montana (N44˚58’ W111˚38) is a 19,000-acre property between the Madison River and the Lee Metcalf Wilderness under conservation easement, providing critical big game winter range for elk, mule deer, moose, bighorn, pronghorn, and mountain goat.  Research is conducted on the compatibility of wolves and cattle ranching, as well as grassland biodiversity and trout recovery.  The site is an IBA for sage grouse and Brewer’s sparrow. Two Medicine Dinosaur Center, Bynum, Montana (N47˚59’ W112˚19’) provides field paleontology workshops at dinosaur sites on the Rocky Mountain front. Weston Family Conservation Center and Waterton Park Front, The Nature Conservancy, Alberta (N49˚10’ W113˚50’) provides an overview of 32,000 acres protected in conservation easements adjacent to Waterton Lakes National Park along Route 6.  The visitor center has a short nature trail.

 

References

Barreto, Claudio et al. 1993.  Evidence of the Growth Plate and the Growth of Long Bones in Juvenile Dinosaurs.  Science 262:2020-2023.

Goebel, Ted, Michael R. Waters and Dennis H. O’Rourke. 2008. The Late Pleistocene Dispersal of Modern Humans in the Americas.  Science 319:1497-1502.

Lahren, Larry, and Robson Bonnichsen. 1974. Bone Foreshafts from a Clovis Burial in Southwestern Montana. Science 186:147-150.

Martin, Anthony J. and David J. Varricchio. 2011. Paleoecological Utility of Insect Trace Fossils in Dinosaur Nesting Sites of the Two Medicine Formation (Campanian), Choteau, Montana.  Historical Biology 23:15-25.

Potera, Carol. 1995. Amateur Fossil Hunters Dig Up Trouble in Montana. Science 268:198-199.

Rasmussen, Morten et al.  2014.  The Genome of a Late Pleistocene Human from a Clovis Burial Site in Western Montana. Nature 506:225-229.

Varricchio, David J. et al. 2008.  Avian Parental Care Had Dinosaur Origin. Science 322:1826-1828.

Waters, Michael R. and Thomas W. Stafford Jr. 2007. Redefining the Age of Clovis: Implications for the Peopling of the Americas. Science 315:1122-1126.

 

 

 

Sonoran Desert and Sky Islands, Part II

The 57 wilderness areas of the Sonoran Desert, along with other natural lands described below, emphasize the tremendous diversity of this arid landscape and its transitional nature from the tropics to the temperate realm.  This entry completes this year-long inventory and overview of the arid lands of the Southwest US and northwestern Mexico; however, I will try to update it as new information becomes available.  Numbers refer to sites on the map included in part I.

XIX.  National Wilderness Areas

North Algodones Dunes Wilderness, BLM,California (49).  This is the part of the Imperial Dunes NNL (see) north of California Route 78.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, BLM Safford Field Office,Arizona (50).  A ten-mile-long scenic canyon is 1,000 feet deep and lined with saguaro cactus on the slopes and broadleaf riparian forest adjacent to the creek.  There are also numerous side canyons, including Cave Canyon, Parsons Canyon, Wire Corral Draw, Whitewash Canyon, Hells Half Acre, Hell Hole, Horse Camp Canyon, Booger Canyon, and Virgus Canyon.  The east and west accesses to the wilderness are part of the Aravaipa Canyon Preserve of the Nature Conservancy.  Ecoregion NA302 and NA1310.

Arrastra Mountains Wilderness, BLM Kingman Field Office, Arizona (51).  This large wilderness includes the Poachie Mountain Range, Arastra Mountain, Black Mountains, Artillery Mountains, and Signal Mountain.  The Big Sandy and Santa Maria Rivers as well as Peoples Canyon flow through the area, which is a volcanic landscape.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Aubrey Peak Wilderness, BLM Kingman Field Office, Arizona (52).  This is a large cliff-encircled mesa with brightly colored volcanic formations on the transition between the Sonoran and Mojave deserts.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Baboquivari Peak Wilderness, BLM Tucson Field Office, Arizona (53).  This is an isolated 7,000-foot mountain supporting oak, walnut, and pinyon pine vegetation.  It is near the Brown Canyon area of Buenos Aires NWR.  The wilderness includes the eastern slopes of the Baboquivari Mountains and Sabino Canyon.  Ecoregion NA302.

Big Horn Mountains Wilderness, BLM Hassayampa Field Office, Arizona (54).  Big Horn Peak rises steeply almost 2,000 feet above the surrounding desert.  Hummingbird Springs Wilderness is to the north.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Big Maria Mountains Wilderness, BLM, California (55).  From US Route 95 at Palo Verde Dam, this area extends northwest to include most of the mountain range.  Foxtail cactus and barrel cactus are the major plants.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Cabeza Prieta Wilderness.  See Cabeza Prieta NWR.

East Cactus Plain Wilderness, BLM Lake Havasu Field Office, Arizona (56).  Dunes dominate this wilderness area, which is nevertheless vegetated with plants adapted to dune topography.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Castle Creek Wilderness, Bradshaw Ranger District, Prescott National Forest, Arizona (57).  Rugged topography with chaparral at higher elevations and saguaro cactus at lower elevations.  Ecoregions NA503 and NA1310.

Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness, BLM Palm Springs Field Office, California (58).  This 110,000-acre wilderness area includes the mountains between I-10 and Augustine Pass.  Included are Black Butte, Pilot Mountain, Corn Springs Wash, Ship Creek, and part of the Chuckwalla Valley.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Coyote Mountains Wilderness, BLM Tucson Field Office, Arizona (59).  An isolated mountain to the south of Route 86 at Pan Tank has bluffs and sheer cliffs with saguaro and oak woodlands.  Part of Mendoza Canyon is in the wilderness.  Ecoregions NA302 and NA1310.

Coyote Mountains Wilderness, BLM El Centro Field Office, California (60). Fossil Canyon contains a 50-million-year section of geologic history.  The Carrizo Badlands surround the Painted Gorge.  Ecoregions NA 1201 and NA1310.

Eagletail Mountains Wilderness, BLM Yuma Field Office, Arizona (61).  Natural arches, high spires, and monoliths are found along a 15-mile ridgeline of the Eagletail Mountains south of I-10.  Courthouse Rock is a monolith that rises 1,000 feet above the desert floor.  Other geographic features include Granite Mountain, Cemetery Ridge, and Nottbusch Butte.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Fish Creek Mountains Wilderness, BLM El Centro Field Office, California (62).  From the desert floor, the mountains appear to be a plateau, but this is actually a land of deep canyons and jagged peaks.  The water mark of ancient Lake Cahuilla is visible.  This area is to the south of the Salton Sea and San Felipe Creek NNL.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Fishhooks Wilderness, BLM Safford Field Office, Arizona (63).  Canyons in the Gila Mountains are vegetated with grassland, chaparral, and pinyon pine.  Ecoregion NA1303.

Four Peaks Wilderness, Mesa Ranger District,Tonto National Forest, Arizona (64).  Rising from a saguaro-covered desert at Apache Lake and Canyon Lake in the south, four isolated mountains reach over 7,000 feet and include chaparral and Douglas fir vegetation.  The four peaks are Browns Peak, Buckhorn Mountain, Camelback Peak, and Mine Mountain.  Other geographic features are El Recortado, Sheep Mountain, Blue Tank Canyon, Cane Spring Canyon, Painted Cliffs, Goat Mountain, and the Wata Ridges.  Ecoregions NA503 and NA1310.

Galiuro Wilderness, Coronado National Forest, Safford Ranger District, Arizona (65).  A mountain range, 19 by six miles, rises steeply above the Chihuahuan Desert plains.   Habitats range from grasslands through mixed conifers and aspens.  Numerous springs and riparian areas are found here.   The southern part of the wilderness is part of the Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area.  Adjoining the wilderness on the south is Redfield Canyon Wilderness.  Mountains include Maverick Mountain,China Peak, Rhodes Peak, Topout Peak, Kennedy Peak, Bassett Peak, and Sunset Peak.  Canyons include Rattlesnake Canyon, Pipestem Canyon, Powers Garden, Kielberg Canyon, and Redfield Canyon.  Ecoregion NA302.

Gibraltar Mountain Wilderness, BLM Lake Havasu Field Office, Arizona (66).  This low-elevation mountain range has alcoves and caves in volcanic tuff and is vegetated by creosote bush, cholla, and palo verde.  The wilderness includes the Buckskin Mountains and Giers Mountain, and is bounded by Osborne Wash on the east and south.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Harcuvar Mountains Wilderness, BLM Lake Havasu Field Office, Arizona (67).  The ten miles of ridgeline contain an island of chaparral habitat in the desert.  Included in the wilderness are Dripping Springs, ECP Peak, and Webber Canyon.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Harquahala Mountains Wilderness, BLM Hassayampa Field Office, Arizona (68).  Mountains rising to 5,600 feet have natural springs and islands of chaparral and desert grassland.  A trail to the historic Harquahala Smithsonian Observatory on Harquahala Peak starts on US 60 east of Wenden. This solar observatory operated from 1920 to 1925.  Other geographic features are Sunset Pass, Browns Canyon, and Arrastra Gulch.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Hassayampa River Canyon Wilderness, BLM Hassayampa Field Office, Arizona (69).  The area contains part of the Hassayampa River north of Wickenburg and a geological monolith called “the Needle.”  Other geographic features are San Powell Peak, Fools Canyon, and Jesus Canyon.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Havasu Wilderness.  See Havasu NWR.

Hells Canyon Wilderness, BLM Hassayampa Field Office, Arizona (70).  The Hieroglyphic Mountains just northwest of Lake Pleasant contain sheer cliffs rising above the surrounding desert.  Geographic features include Garfias Mountain, Garfias Wash, Cedar Basin, and Burro Flats.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Hummingbird Springs Wilderness, BLM Hassayampa Field Office, Arizona (71). Sugarloaf Mountain, part of the Big Horn Mountains, dominates this wilderness, which is vegetated with saguaro, ocotillo, and cholla.  Big Horn Mountains Wilderness borders this area on the south.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Indian Pass Wilderness, BLM El Centro Field Office, California (72).  This area in the Chocolate Mountains is known for jagged peaks and spires.  It is located between Route 78 and the Colorado River and borders Imperial NWR. Indian Pass and Gavilan Wash are the southern boundary.  Geographic features are Julian Wash and Quartz Peak, and wildlife features are desert bighorn and theColorado River toad.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Jacumba Wilderness, BLM El Centro Field Office,California (73).  Located on the dramatic descent from the peninsular ranges to the desert, the area is composed of four parallel north-south mountain ridges separated by valleys. Myers Valley is noted for fan palms and desert pavement.  The Valley of the Moon is an area of large granite boulders. Davies Valley is in the middle of the wilderness and is covered with desert pavement of cobbles. Skull Valley is the easternmost valley and contains a dry lake.  Ecoregions NA1201 and NA 1310.

Kofa Wilderness (115).  See Kofa NWR.

Little Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness, BLM Palm Springs Field Office, California (74).  This includes the east-west mountains east of Graham Pass.  The low mountains and adjoining valleys are good desert tortoise habitat.  Ecoregion NA1310

Little Picacho Peak Wilderness, BLM El Centro District, California (75).  This area is spires and peaks, including Little Picacho Peak, at the southern edge of the Chocolate Mountains.   Prominent washes providing canyons in the wilderness are Ferguson Wash, Marcus Wash,Senator Wash, and Mission Wash. The area is known for a wild horse herd, and wild burros are also found here.  The slopes are covered with desert pavement.  The area adjoins the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge and Picacho State Recreation Area.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Maricopa Mountains, North, Wilderness, Sonoran Desert National Monument, BLM Lower Sonoran Field Office, Arizona (76).  The wilderness contains extensive saguaro-paloverde-ironwood vegetation and creosote bush-covered flats. Sheep Mountain, Margies Cove, and the Maricopa Mountains north of Butterfield Pass are included.  The Magies Cove and Brittlebrush trails are maintained.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Maricopa Mountains, South, Wilderness, Sonoran Desert National Monument, BLM Lower Sonoran Field Office, Arizona (77).  The wilderness contains extensive saguaro-paloverde-ironwood vegetation and creosote bush-covered flats covering the Maricopa Mountains.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Mazatzal Wilderness, Payson Ranger District,Tonto National Forest,Arizona (78).  Canyons of the Verde and East Verde River are vegetated with Sonoran Desert shrubland rising to grassland, chaparral, pinyon-juniper, and ponderosa pine.  The 252,000-acre area is one of the original wildernesses designated under the 1964 Wilderness Act.  The 29-mile Mazatzal Divide Trail, part of the Arizona National Scenic Trail, traverses the wilderness.  Ecoregion NA503 and NA1310.

Mecca Hills Wilderness, BLM Palm Springs Field Office,California (79).  This badlands area north of theSalton Sea contains Painted Canyon, Sheep Hole Oasis, and Hidden Springs Canyon.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Miller Peak Wilderness, Coronado National Forest, Sierra Vista Ranger District, Arizona (33).  This 9,000-foot peak supports pine, fir forests and 14 species of hummingbirds, as it is adjacent to Ramsey Canyon NNL in he Huachuca Mountains.  The Arizona NST crosses the area.  Also included in this wilderness are the upper end of Ramsey Canyon, Sunnyside Canyon, Lone Mountain, Granite Peak, Rattlesnake Peak, and Sutherland Peak.  Ecoregion NA302.

Mount Wrightson Wilderness,Coronado National Forest, Nogales Ranger District, Arizona (14).  Mountains to 9,000 feet support ponderosa pine and Douglas fir.  The wilderness surrounds the Madera Canyon birding area and includes Pete Mountain and McCleary Peak.  The Big Casa Blanca, Chino, Florida, and Madera Canyons cut into the Santa Rita Mountains.  Ecoregion NA302.

Muggins Mountain Wilderness, BLM Yuma Field Office, Arizona (80). Muggins Peak, Long Mountain, and Klothos Temple are noted for colorful geologic strata just to the east of Dome Valley and the city of Yuma.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Needle’s Eye Wilderness, BLM Tucson Field Office, Arizona (81).  Bordered by the Gila River on the south, a 2,500-foot rise of Paleozoic limestone is included in this wilderness.  Geographic features are Mescal Warm Spring and Spring Canyon.  The wilderness is downstream of San Carlos Reservoir.  Ecoregions NA302 and NA1310.

New Water Mountains Wilderness, Yuma Field Office, Arizona (82).  Dominated by 1,000-foot tall Black Mesa inn the Plomosa Mountains, this area adjoining Kofa NWR includes a sparse saguaro cactus forest.  Other geographic features areTwin Peaks, The Eagles Eyes, and Gunsight Notch.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Organ Pipe Cactus Wilderness (3). See Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument under Man and the Biosphere Reserves.

Orocopia Mountains Wilderness, BLM Palm Springs Field Office, California (83).  The valleys, ridges, long deep canyons of this wilderness are located north of the Salton Sea.   Included are the Orocopia Mountains between Hidden Spring Canyon and Red Canyon, along with part of the Maniobra Valley.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Pajarita Wilderness,Coronado National Forest, Nogales Ranger District, Arizona (16).  The high mountain forest supports 17 endemic plants in Sycamore Canyon and is a place to sight the five-striped sparrow amid small waterfalls.  The wilderness also includes Manzanita Mountain, Flat Top Mountain, Tonto Canyon, and Penasco Canyon.  Ecoregion NA302.

Palen/McCoy Wilderness, BLM Palm Springs Field Office, California (84).  This 259,000-acre area to the east of Joshua Tree National Park contains all or parts of five mountain ranges, the Palen, McCoy, Granite, Little Maria, and Arica ranges.  A lush ironwood forest is found in the wide valley between the Palen and McCoy Ranges.  Also included is the desert valley surrounding Sand Draw.  The McCoy Springs National Register District contains concentrations of petroglyphs.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Palo Verde Mountains Wilderness, BLM El Centro District, California (85).  To the west of Route 78 south of Blythe is this mountain range, containing Palo Verde Peak, Flat Tops, and Thumb Peak.  Clapp Spring is a palm oasis.  This area contains saguaro cactus, which are rare in California.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Picacho Peak Wilderness, BLM El Centro District, California (75).  The area contains Indian Pass in the west and a rolling benchland in the south. Gavilan Wash and Carrizo Wash are the boundaries to the northwest and southeast.  TheColorado River is to the northeast. Carrizo Falls, a 40-foot cascade into a pool of cattails, is within the wilderness, but Picacho Peak is not.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Pusch Ridge Wilderness, Santa Catalina Ranger District, Coronado National Forest, Arizona (86).  Pine, fir, aspen, and maple forests overlook Tucson from a 9,000-foot vantage point.  The wilderness includes Romero Canyon, Pima Canyon, Sabino Canyon, Bear Canyon, and Wilderness of Rocks trail.  Mountains include Pusch Ridge, Window Rock, Cathedral Rock, Finger Rock, and Gibbon Mountain.  Ecoregion NA302.

Rawhide Mountains Wilderness, BLM Lake Havasu Field Office,Arizona (87).  This area preserves the 600-foot deep gorge of the Bill Williams River, Ives Wash, Spenser Wash, and Mississippi Wash, all just downstream of Alamo Lake.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Redfield Canyon Wilderness, BLM Safford Field Office,Arizona (88).  Steep cliffs and caves along a red-walled canyon are part of the Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area.  Adjoining Redfield Canyon on the north is Galiuro Wilderness.  Geographic features include Sycamore Canyon, Swamp Springs Canyon, and Redus Canyon.  Ecoregion NA1303.

Rice Valley Wilderness, BLM,California (89).  Part of the Rice Valley and its sand dunes, along with part of the Big Maria Mountains, are included in this wilderness north of Blythe.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Rincon Mountain Wilderness, Coronado National Forest, Santa Catalina Ranger District, Arizona (90).  Surrounding the eastern unit of Saguaro National Park, desert grasses, pinyon-juniper, and oak woodlands are found in canyons descending from Rincon Peak.  Major canyons included are Joaquin, Tres Pipas, Bolt, Espiritu, Miller, Distillery, and Posta Quemada.  Ecoregion NA302.

Riverside Mountains Wilderness, BLM Palm Springs Field Office, California (91).  The Riverside Mountains along theColorado River and Big Wash are included in this area to the west of the Colorado River Indian Reservation.  The rugged interior is known for foxtail and barrel cactus, along with burro deer.  Ecoregion NA1310.

San Gorgonio Wilderness, San Bernardino National Forest and BLM, California (92).  The eastern slope of the San Bernardino Mountains at Bighorn Mountain descends to the desert at the Whitewater River valley and Morongo Canyon.  Ecoregion NA1203 and NA 1310.

Santa Rosa Wilderness, San Bernardino National Forest and Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monument, California (93).  Rising out of the desert from sea level to 7,000 feet, this area is part of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.   The largest herd of peninsular bighorn sheep is found here.  Access is by the Cactus Spring Trail.  Included are the western Coachella Valley, Rabbit Peak, Martinez Canyon, Devil Canyon, Little Pinyon Flat, Martinez Mountain, and Deep Canyon.  Ecoregions NA1201 and NA1310.

Santa Teresa Wilderness, Coronado National Forest, Safford Ranger District, Arizona, and North Santa Teresa Wilderness, BLM Safford Field Office, Arizona (94).  Rugged mountains, caves, eroded cliffs covered with chaparral.  North Santa Teresa protects Black Rock, a geologic formation rising 1,000 feet from its base.  Other geographic features in North Santa Teresa Wilderness are Beauchamp Canyon, Holdup Canyon, Jackson Canyon, and Black Rock Canyon.  Geographic features in Santa Teresa Wilderness include Mud Spring Mesa, Rocky Top, Cottonwood Mountain, Cobre Grande Mountain, Pinnacle Ridge, Fourmile Canyon, and Cottonwood Canyon.  Ecoregion NA302.

Sawtooth Mountains Wilderness, BLM El Centro District,California (95).  Finger ridges overlook the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.  Features include Storm Canyon, The Portrero Valley, the Inner Pasture, Canebreak Canyon, and Tierra Blanca Mountains.  Ecoregions NA1201 and NA1310.

Sierra Estrella Wilderness, BLM Lower Sonoran Field Office, Arizona (96).  Knife-edge ridges and rocky canyons of Butterfly Mountain and Montezuma Peak rise 2,600 feet in less than two miles, adjacent to the Gila River Indian Community. Ecoregion NA1310.

Signal Mountain Wilderness, BLM Lower Sonoran Field Office, Arizona (97).  Volcanic peaks of the Gila Bend Mountains, canyons, and desert bighorn sheep may be seen.  The area is to the north of and adjoins Woolsey Peak Wilderness.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Superstition Wilderness, Mesa Ranger District,Tonto National Forest,Arizona (98).  The dramatic peak Weaver’s Needle is found in the Sonoran Desert landscape of this wilderness, which includes cliff dwellings and canyons.  Vegetation ranges from palo verde at lower elevations to chapparal, grasslands, and pockets of ponderosa pine.  Notable geographic features are Two Bar Ridge, Tule Canyon, Castle Dome, Fish Creek Canyon, Geronimo Head, Battleship Mountain, Picacho Butte, Sawtooth Ridge, Pinto Peak, and Granite Mountain.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Swansea Wilderness, BLM Lake Havasu Field Office,Arizona (99).  This wilderness includes Black Mesa and eroded volcanic dikes to the north of the Bill Williams River and the Buckskin Mountains to the south.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Table Top Mountains Wilderness, Sonoran Desert National Monument, BLM Lower Sonoran Field Office, Arizona (100).  Saguaro cactus and creosote bush-covered flats cover Antelope Peak, Indian Butte, Black Mountain, and Table Top.  A grassland is on the Table Top.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Tres Alamos Wilderness, BLM Kingman Field Office, Arizona (101).  This area adjoins and is to the south of the Arrastra Mountains wilderness and includes Sawyer Peak.  It is covered with vegetation of saguaro, Joshua tree, and palo verde.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Trigo Mountain Wilderness, BLM Yuma Field Office, Arizona (102).  This wilderness encompasses theTrigo Mountains just east of Imperial NWR and Wilderness, just east of the Colorado River. Colorado River tributaries Lopez Wash,Clip Wash, and Red Cloud Wash are included.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Upper Burro Creek Wilderness, BLM Kingman Field Office, Arizona (103).  The perennial stream falls 1,500 feet in one-half mile, providing water in the desert landscape. Geographic features include Goodwin Mesa, the Aquarius Cliffs, Granite Ridges, Cornwall Canyon, Pinky Canyon, Trot and Holler Canyon, and Francis Creek.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Wabayuma Peak Wilderness, BLM Kingman Field Office, Arizona (104).  The Hualapai Mountains rise 5,000 feet above the desert floor and support both Sonoran and Mojave Desert vegetation, including the northernmost population of saguaro cactus.  Geographic features include Willow Creek, Boriana Canyon, and Whiskey Basin.  Ecoregions NA1308 and 1310.

Whipple Mountains Wilderness, BLM, California (105).  This area is north of the Colorado River Aqueduct and contains mountains, natural bridges, and spires.  Vegetation is creosote bush, ironwood, smoke tree, and cacti.  Ecoregion NA1310.

White Canyon Wilderness,  BLM Tucson Field Office, Arizona (106).  Saguaro and chaparral grow on 800-foot canyon walls to the north of the Gila River and south of the Tonto NF. Walnut Canyon is on the eastern border.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Woolsey Peak Wilderness, BLM Lower Sonoran Field Office, Arizona (107).  The Gila Bend Mountains, visible in much of southwestern Arizona, are included in this area, which is the north of Painted Rock on the Gila River.  Lava flows and mesas are covered with saguaro vegetation.  Other geographic features are Woolsey Wash, Woolsey Peak, and Bunyan Peak.  Ecoregion NA1310.

 XX.  National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) System

Bill Williams River NWR, Arizona (108).  This refuge is home to clapper rails and other wetland birds and extends nine miles up the Bill Williams River from Lake Havasu.  It is an IBA.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Buenos Aires NWR, Arizona (109).  The refuge was established to restore the masked bobwhite, but there are three other species of quail, waterfowl, mule deer, and pronghorn found in abundance here.  Arivaca Cienega and Creek are an IBA for riparian species.  The streams and canyons provide oases in the desert grasslands.  A natural bridge is in Brown Canyon and accessible by guided tour.  Ecoregion NA1303.

Cabeza Prieta NWR, Arizona (110).  Together with Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, El Pinacate Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Preserve, and the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range of the Department of Defense, this refuge protects the largest contiguous tract of Sonoran Desert.  Also present are desert bighorn sheep, Sonoran pronghorn, and numerous lizards.  It is an IBA for the LeConte’s thrasher and is a unit of the Sonoran Desert Borderlands IBA.  There are seven mountain ranges, crossed by the 120-mile long El Camino del Diablo, an unpaved four-wheel-drive road.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Cibola NWR, Arizona and California (111).  This Colorado River refuge is a migratory bird refuge, supporting 85 percent of the wintering geese in Arizona, along with willow flycatcher and Yuma clapper rail.  It is part of the Lower Colorado River Valley IBA.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Coachella Valley NWR, California (112).  Sand dune habitat provides a sanctuary for the endangered Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard.  There are 11 oases, including the Thousand Palms Oasis with the second largest concentration of fan palms in California.  Ecoregions NA1308 and 1310.

Havasu NWR, Arizona and California (113).  The refuge protects waterfowl in a 30-mile section of the Colorado River, including 20 river miles of the scenic Topock Gorge, and is surrounded by desert vegetation of creosote bush, ocotillo and saguaro.  Desert tortoise and Gila monster may be found, along with desert bighorn sheep and willow flycatcher.  Most is designated wilderness.  The area is part of the Lower Colorado River Valley IBA.  Ecoregions NA1308 and NA1310.

Imperial NWR, Arizona and California (114).  This migratory bird refuge protects ducks, geese, and shorebirds and is a restoration area for willow-cottonwood riparian forests.  It is an IBA.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Kofa NWR, Arizona (115).  Arizona’s largest bighorn sheep population roams the Kofa and Castle Dome Mountain Ranges.  Most is designated wilderness. A small grove of California fan palms is found in Palm Canyon.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR, California (7).   See description under WHSRN.  Ecoregion NA1310.

 

XXI.  Other Federal Sites

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, BLM, California (116).  This desert oasis contains riparian woodland of cottonwood and willow, along with alkali meadow, and is an IBA for brown-crested flycatcher, summer tanager, and long-eared owl.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Lower Colorado River Gadsden Riparian Area, Arizona (117).  This area south of Yuma extends to the Mexican border and receives leakage from the Morelos Dam, which diverts water to Mexican agricultural areas.  It is an IBA forYuma clapper rail and southwestern willow flycatcher.  Ecoregion NA1310. 

Barry Goldwater Air Force Range, Arizona (118).  This area is a unit of the Sonoran Desert Borderlands IBA and is noted for LeConte’s thrasher.   See discussion in the overview of elephant tree and gray’s vireo.  Ecoregion NA1310. 

Fort Huachuca, Arizona (119).  Trails lead through forests of oak, pine and Douglas-fir at Garden Canyon.  This area is part of the Huachuca Mountains IBA.  Ecoregion NA302.

Milpitas Wash, BLM,California (120).  The desert stream is part of the Colorado Desert microphyll woodlands IBA and is noted for long-eared owl, elf owl, and Gila woodpecker.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Vidal Wash, BLM, California (121).  The desert stream is part of the Colorado Desert microphyll woodlands IBA and is noted for long-eared owl, elf owl, and Gila woodpecker.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Arizona (122).  This facility centered on the town of Tombstone was established in the 1950s to research the influence of upland conservation practices on downstream water supply.  A number of hydrologic models resulted.  Today it is the most densely gauged and monitored rangeland in the world, with research programs in water quality, rangeland, pasture, and global change.  Ecoregion NA1303.

 XXII. State and Local Sites

Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona (38).  A reservoir recreation area also has hiking in desert mountains. See Alamo Lake under federal recreation lakes.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Sierra a los Ajos, Buenos Aires y las Purvia National Forest Reserve and Wildlife Refuge, Commission on Ecology and Sustainable Development of Sonora, Mexico (123).  This sky island has maintained a natural fire regime and is used as a model for how the sky islands further north should be managed.  The woodlands of mixed conifer, chaparral, and pine-oak are on outcrops of limestone (Fishbein, Felger, and Garza 1995).  The Ajos-Bavispe reserve includes eight sky islands, protecting threatened species.  Ecoregion NA302.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California (28).  Part of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts biosphere reserve.  See description under National Natural Landmarks.

Boyd, Phillip L., Deep Canyon Research Center, University of California Riverside, Palm Desert, California (25).  Known as the ‘Yosemite of the Desert,’ this area is part of the University of California Natural Reserve System, is included in the boundaries of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monument, and is also part of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Catalina State Park, Arizona (124).  On the west side of the Santa Rita Mountains, trails lead up canyons and into Pusch Ridge Wilderness (see).  Ecoregion NA1310 and NA302.

Fort McDowell Indian Reservation (40).  TheVerde River through the reservation is part of the Salt and Verde Riparian Ecosystem IBA.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Gilbert Riparian Preserves, City of Gilbert, Arizona (125).  This wastewater treatment area is an IBA for shorebirds.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Imperial State Wildlife Area, California (126).  This is an IBA for mountain plover, burrowing owl, heron, and ibis.  It is a wintering area for snow geese and a nesting area for clapper rails.  The area is also known for its geothermal mudpots.  Ecoregion NA1308.

Kartchner Caverns State Park, Arizona (127).  This pristine cave was discovered in 1974.  Fossils of a ground sloth 80,000 years old were found in the cave.  Ecoregion NA1303.

Mayflower County Park, Riverside County, Blythe, California (128).  Located on the Colorado River, this park is noted for songbird migration and is part of the Lower Colorado River IBA.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Mittry Lake State Wildlife Area, Arizona (41).  Downstream from Imperial Dam on the Colorado River, this area is an IBA forYuma clapper rail and California black rail.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreational Area, California (129).  Bordered by California Routes 86 to the east, Route 78 to the south, Imperial County Route S22 in the north, and the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in the west, this 85,000-acre area contains a shell reef of four-million-year-old oyster deposits and mud pots of bubbly liquid.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Patagonia Lake State Park, Arizona (31).  This reservoir recreation area is part of the Sonoita State Natural Area/Patagonia Lake IBA for wintering waterfowl and marsh birds.  Ecoregion NA1303.

Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona (130).  The peak rises 1,500 feet above the desert floor and a hiking trail encircles the peak.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Picacho State Recreational Area, California (114).  Noted for beavertail cactus, wild burros and migratory waterfowl, this area on Imperial Reservoir adjoins Little Picacho Wilderness and Picacho Peak Wilderness.  It provides opportunities for hiking in a desert landscape. Picacho Peak is a volcanic outcrop formed when lava hardened around a vent.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Quigley State Wildlife Area, Arizona (131).  This area near Tacna is along the riparian corridor of the lower Gila River.  It is an IBA for water birds such as the Yuma clapper rail.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Salt/Gila Riparian Wildlife Management Areas, Arizona (132).  The perennial flow from sewage treatment plants in Maricopa County produces an important bird area between 83rd and 115th Avenue and Gillespie Dam.  Eagles, herons, and cormorants are common.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Salton Sea State Recreational Area, California (133).  The lowest spot on earth at -227 feet elevation, it is known for snow geese and provides hiking and kayaking opportunities.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, Arizona (31).  This area protects the endangered Gila topminnow.  It is an IBA for riparian birds including green kingfisher, black-capped gnatcatcher, and elegant trogon.  Ecoregion NA1303.

South Mountain Park, City of Phoenix, Arizona (134).  The park offers 58 miles of trails in the Sonoran Desert.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Thompson, Boyce, Arboretum State Park, Arizona (135).  Trails lead to displays of Chihuahuan and Sonoran Desert plants.  The area is an IBA for land birds.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Tucson Mountain County Park, Pima County, Arizona (136). Adjacent to the Saguaro NP, this area preserves additional stands of saguaro cactus.  Ecoregion NA1310.

 

XXIII. Other Natural Sites

Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch, National Audubon Society, Arizona (29).  Located at Elgin, this is a partnership project of the Audubon Society, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Swift Current Land and Cattle Company.  An 8,000-acre area that has excluded livestock since 1968 provides opportunities to study grassland ecosystem conservation.  The area is an Important Bird Area for grassland birds.  Ecoregion NA1303.

Cajon del Agua, Sonora (137).  A scenic and steep canyon which contains the northernmost Sinaloan thornscrub vegetation, located on the north side of the Sierra Cucurpe and east of Santa Ana.  Ecoregion NA302.

El Aribabi, Sonora (138).   This 10,000-acre private tract on Route 2 east of Imuris has been designated as a “natural protected area” by the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP).  It contains desert, river, grassland, and mountain oak savanna habitats with mountain lions and breeding Sinaloan wren.  Ecoregions NA302 and 1303.

Aravaipa Canyon Preserve, The Nature Conservancy, Arizona (50). See Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness.

Coachella Valley Preserve, Center for Natural Lands Management, California (112).  This 14,000-acre preserve provides dune habitat for the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard.  There are 11 fan palm oases which protect the desert pupfish and provide habitat for other animals that benefit from water in the desert.   Ecoregion NA1310.

Los Fresnos Ranch Preserve, Naturalia organization,Sonora (139).  This site on the Arizona border contains large marshes (cienegas) and high quality native grassland that was not overgrazed in the past.  Ecoregion NA1303.

Valley of the Giants (Gigantes), Baja California (140).  The world’s largest cardon cacti are found south of Punta Estrella.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Guadalupe Canyon, Baja California (141).  This area east of Constitution of 1857 National Park contains granite cliffs, thermal springs, waterfalls, and rock art.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Hassayampa River Preserve, The Nature Conservancy, Arizona (142).  For five miles, this desert river surfaces and provides lush riparian habitat for 260 species of birds and desert fish.  Ecoregion NA1310.

El Humo Range, Sonora (143), is a western sky island located 70 km southwest of Sasabe which hosts oak woodland in north-facing canyons.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area, Arizona (144).  BLM, The Forest Service, and the Nature Conservancy share supervision over seven streams which create oases of riparian habitat in the desert grassland.  The Nature Conservancy operates a visitor center.  Ecoregion NA 1303.

Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, The Nature Conservancy, Arizona (31).  See description under National Natural Landmarks.

Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center, Arizona (134).  Located in downtown Phoenix, this area preserves Sonoran Desert riparian habitat.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point), Sonora (145).  Known as Arizona’s beach, the desert meets the sea and is interpreted at the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO).  Ecoregion NA1310.

Ramsey Canyon Preserve, The Nature Conservancy, Arizona (11).  See description under National Natural Landmarks.

Laguna Salada, Baja California (146).  This lake is the northern extension of the Gulf of California when there are floods.  Ecoregion NA1310.

San Pedro River, Arizona (147).  The area downstream from the National Conservation Area (see under National Landscape Conservation System) is a unique mesquite woodland community as well as a cottonwood-willow gallery forest.  The area between Pomerene and Mammoth is an IBA for southwestern willow flycatcher and other riparian birds.  Ecoregion NA1303.

Sierra Madre Occidental, Sonora (148).  The sky islands of Sonora are recognized as an IBA by BirdLife International.  Ecoregion NA302.

Sonoyta River, Sonora (149).  West of Sonoyta city are patches of perennial flow in the desert.  Ecoregion NA1310.

Tajo Canyon, Baja California (150).  The boulder-strewn and palm-lined canyon is at the foot of a 1,950-foot monolith.  Ecoregion NA1310.

 

XXIV. Further Reading

 

Arnett, John.  2011.  Gray Vireo Finds Important & Unique Winter Habitat on Arizona’s Military Lands.  Steppingstones, Newsletter of the Department of Defense Partners in Flight Program, Fall 2011.  http://www.dodpif.org/publications/steppingstones.php

Bowden, Charles.  1994.  Desert Dreams.  Nature Conservancy Magazine 44(5):16-23.

Bureau of Land Management.  2010.  Plan Amendment/Final EIS for the Genesis Solar Energy Project.  Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office. Available at http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/palmsprings/Solar_Projects/Genesis_Ford_Dry_Lake.html.

Cohn, Jeffrey P.  2005.  Joint Ventures:  A Different Approach to Conservation.  BioScience 55:824-827.

Cohn, Jeffrey P. 2001.  Sonoran Desert Conservation.  BioScience 51:606-610.

Coronado Planning Partnership.  2008.  State of the Coronado National Forest:  An Assessment and Recommendations for the 21st Century.  Available at www.skyislandaction.org

Fishbein, Mark, Richard Felger, and Florentino Garza.   1995.   Another Jewel in the Crown:  A Report on the Flora of the Sierra de los Ajos, Sonora, Mexico.  Pp. 126-134 In DeBano, Leonard H. et al., eds.  Biodiversity and Management of the Madrean Archipelago:  The Sky Islands of Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico.  USDA-Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Experiment Station General Technical Report RM-264.

Frasier, Gary W. and Kathryn A. Holland.  2004.  Rangeland Hydrology Research:  Lessons We Have Learned in 40 Years.  Pages 263-276 In George G. Ice and John D. Stednick, eds.  A Century of Forest and Wildland Watershed Lessons.  Society of American Foresters, Bethesda, Maryland.

Gibbons, Bob.  2011.  Wildflower Wonders:  The 50 Best Wildflower Sites in the World. Princeton University Press.

Mohlenbrock, Robert H.  2011.  Desert Wanderings.  Natural History, October 2011, pp. 38-39.

Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 1986.  Peralta Canyon, Arizona.  Natural History, December 1986, pp. 29-32.

Mohlenbrock, Robert H.  1984.  The Field Guide to U.S. National Forests.  Congdon and Weed, Inc.

Noble, John et al.  2010.  Mexico.  Lonely Planet Publications.

O’Gara, Geoffrey.  2000.  Guide to America’s Outdoors:  Far West.  National Geographic Society,Washington,DC.

Sahagun, Louis.  2012.  Discovery of Indian Artifacts Complicates Genesis Solar Project.  Los Angeles Times, April 24, 2012.

Sonoran Desert Naturalist.  http://www.arizonensis.org/sonoran/places/index.html (accessed12/23/11).

Trabish, Herman K.  2012.  EnergySource’s New Geothermal Plant is Online Near the Salton Sea.  www.greentechmedia.com (March 22, 2012).

UNESCO-Man and the Biosphere Reserves Directory.  http://www.unesco.org/mabdb/br/brdir/directory/database.asp (accessed5/30/11).

Vidal, R.M., H. Berlangia, and M. de Coro Arimendi.  2009.  Mexico. In C. Devenish, D.F. Diaz Fernandez, R.P. Clay,I. Davidson, andI. Yepez Zabala, eds.  Important Bird Areas Americas—Priority Sites for Biodiversity Conservation.  Quito, Ecuador.  BirdLife International.  BirdLife Conservation Series No. 16.

Waldrop, M. Mitchell.  1990.  The Long, Sad Saga of Mount Graham.  Science 248:1479-1481.

White, Mel.  2000.  Guide to America’s Outdoors:  Southwest.  National Geographic Society.

World Heritage List.  http://whc.unesco.org/en/list (accessed 5/22/11).

Islands in the Great Basin Desert

Part II of Great Basin, Sierra Nevada, and Wasatch Plateaus

Devil’s Kitchen, the Table, and Weepah Springs

Many of the wilderness areas preserve mountain range sites, which are often forested islands of bristlecone pine forest, as well as volcanic and geologic features.  Many of the remainder of the remote ranges in the Great Basin are de facto wilderness areas.  The Sierra Nevada units are some of the largest and most well-known wilderness areas.  The wildlife refuges preserve the precious desert springs, which host both waterfowl and rare fish.  The largest refuge in the lower 48 states is a preserve for desert bighorn sheep. Continue reading

Coastal Sage, Chaparral and Nearby Mountains, Part 2

Oak woodlands where condors soar, the nation’s rarest pine tree, and the Mountains to Sea Trail

This section describes the national systems of public lands and notable private lands which protect natural landscapes in the Mediterranean climate ecoregions of western North America. The areas listed are between 115 and 120 degrees West and 31 and 40 degrees north. Other Mediterranean climate areas exist to the west. The categories listed are National Forest System, National Landscape Conservation System, National Marine Sanctuaries, National Natural Landmarks, National Park System, Federal Recreation Lakes, National Scenic Trails, National Wild and Scenic River System, Federal Wilderness Areas, and National Wildlife Refuge System. Some of these categories overlap. For example, wilderness areas exist on national forests, national parks, national wildlife refuges, and elsewhere in the national system of public lands. National wild and scenic rivers also exist in forests, parks, and other public lands. These lands differ in the amount of public access allowed, from none to extensive, the types and amount of outdoor recreation activities allowed, and in water and vegetation management. Over time, the management philosophies of these different categories of lands have come closer together as the recognition of the need to manage lands in a coordinated manner increases. The section concludes with information on state and local sites and private land conservation efforts. The list of federal, state, local, and private sites is selective and no effort is made to identify all such sites. Designation of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) is a private effort coordinated by BirdLife International internationally and the National Audubon Society and American Bird Conservancy in the U.S. Where an area is listed as an IBA, that is noted in the description. Continue reading