On the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is the American Great Basin. Cold in winter and hot and dry in the summer, this desolate yet fragile land holds abundant mysteries and beauty. BLM management focuses on encouraging the reestablishment of native perennial grasses and protecting unique biological resources. Riparian habitat conservation and restoration of BLM resource assets are also very important.
Resting on the edge of the Great Basin on the northern end of Death Valley is the ghost town of Bodie, once a booming and thriving mining town with a population of 10,000. Now the ruins are preserved as a state historical park for all to visit and learn. Surrounding the ghost town is the Bodie Bowl Area of Critical Environmental Concern and the Bodie Hills managed by BLM, both with important resource and cultural values. 1999 saw the culmination of many years of work to acquire mineral interests and private inholdings to protect the area from development and preserve the historic town in its arrested decay status.
From classic western movies such as High Sierra, How the West Was Won and Maverick, to Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger TV programs, to commercials and magazine photos, the Alabama Hills have been a favorite filming area since the 1920s. Under BLM management and administration of film permits, the Alabama Hills remain basically unchanged since filming began 80 years ago. BLM again participated in the Lone Pine Film Festival this year, providing displays and tours of the area. At the foot of tallest mountain in the state, the hills are also a favorite destination for recreationists, hikers and campers. The area contains several BLM campgrounds at Crowley Lake, Tuttle and Lone Pine. A section of the Pacific Crest Trail can be accessed at Chimney Peak.
The 6,000 Fish Slough Area of Critical Environmental Concern is a lush oasis amid an otherwise arid landscape. The slough is created by the surface flow of the three remaining naturally occuring springs within the Volcanic Tablelands of the Owen´sValley. Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service multi-species plan established the ACEC as a key habitat conservation area.
Since December of 1990, a federal geothermal lease operated by Mammoth-Pacific has been carefully monitored to determine if the facility, and two other adjacent plants on private lands, is impacting nearby springs. The monitoring is done through the Long Valley Hydrological Advisory Committee, the first of it's kind to monitor geothermal operations, with representatives from the US Geological Survey, BLM, US Forest Service, CA Fish & Game, Mono County, and private geothermal developers. Through the careful review of the committee and responsible operations by the geothermal operators, the springs have been protected from geothermal development impacts.