Landscape Conservation in the Amargosa Basin

Apr 6, 2017
The Amargosa Basin represents a vast stretch of desert that creates vital habitat connectivity between Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve. With the passage of the DRECP the majority of the California side of the basin is now managed with an emphasis on conservation. The basin drains into Badwater Basin at more than 200 feet below sea level but also encompasses the entire Kingston Range whose peak is over 7,000 feet high.
The centerpiece of the Amargosa Basin is the Amargosa River. Twenty-eight miles of the river has the Wild and Scenic River designation, a rarity for an intermittent desert waterway. The Amargosa is unique in that the permanently flowing reaches of the river are fed from springs drawing from a deep, ancient carbonite aquifer. This makes it a reliable source of water in a parched and unpredictable landscape, but also a source of water that is not easily recharged and sensitive to overdraw.
The Amargosa Basin is also home to important cultural and natural resources. The area contains historic foot paths of the Shoshone and Paiute, wagon routes of the Mormon Trail, old railroad beds and mining roads, and today offers off-road recreation routes. The basin hosts migrating birds and the natural springs provide habitat for rare species of wildlife - not the least of which is the endangered Amargosa vole, with a range of only five square miles, making it the most endangered mammal in the country.
The basin contains numerous protected areas with varying levels of protections across a large landscape. In order to conserve the integrity of these values, it is important to take a landscape-level approach to managing the Basin.