Managing ORVs in Middle Knob

Sep 19, 2017
Middle Knob provides spectacular, rugged and colorful landforms, and dramatic viewsheds. It is a key ecological area which supports unusual plant associations not found elsewhere, including one of California's rarest species: Kern buckwheat. Unusual associations occur throughout the area, combining species from coastal scrub, southern mountain chaparral, Sierran foothill woodlands, Great Basin pinyon forests, and Mojavean scrub. The area provides prime habitat for golden eagles, prairie falcons, desert tortoise and Mohave ground squirrel. The area is also part of the heartland of the Kawaiisu native peoples, containing several sacred sites and living sites.
The BLM recently recognized these resources, designating the area as National Conservation Land under the DRECP, but the area remains threatened by irresponsible and illegal off-route travel. Despite the rules restricting vehicles to designated routes, motorbikes and ATVs frequently travel off-route and up and down steep hills in the area. The soils are already susceptible to erosion, and off-route travel greatly exacerbates the erosion. A segment of the world-famous Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the Middle Knob area, offering hikers and equestrians a glimpse into the unique landscapes that converge in this important ecological transition zone, and overlaps with a designated motorized route, where off-route and illegal travel is also having an impact on the PCT. The BLM will need solid management strategies that address these concerns.