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Campaign Expands to Protect Conglomerate Mesa


Wednesday, August 31, 2022   

Conservation groups are working to raise awareness of the fight to protect a pristine California desert landscape from development, near Death Valley National Park and Owens Lake.

Conglomerate Mesa and Centennial Flats are treasured by local tribes and outdoor enthusiasts, but the area is also in the sights of a Canadian gold-mining company, which is seeking permission to build roads and drill 30 additional exploration holes, for a total of 120.

Wendy Schneider, executive director of Friends of the Inyo, said the area is part of an important high desert ecosystem.

"This area has a thriving and reproducing population of Joshua trees, at a time when they are disappearing from Joshua Tree National Park," Schneider explained. "It has a handful of species of other rare desert plants. And it's also very important to the area's two tribes, the Lone Pine Paiute Shoshone and the Timbisha Shoshone tribes."

The area is also a draw for tourists to enjoy the solitude, wildlife viewing and dark desert skies in the eastern Sierras, alongside the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area, Death Valley and Mount Whitney. The land is currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The mesa is a haven for eagles, hawks, mountain lions and deer. Schneider pointed out it has high ecological, recreational, historical and cultural values, so her group wants local tribes to have a say in how the land is used -- and ideally, protected -- going forward.

"It's very important that they be able to carry out the activities that they would like to do, like pinion nut gathering, hunting, and ceremonies," Schneider outlined. "On these lands, as they always have."

Friends of the Inyo's main office is in Bishop, but the group has just opened a satellite office in the town of Lone Pine, which Schneider added will serve as a base of operations for the campaign to save Conglomerate Mesa.

Disclosure: Friends of the Inyo contributes to our fund for reporting on Endangered Species & Wildlife, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, and Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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