Mission Statement for the Carrizo Plain
Manage the Carrizo Plain National Monument so that indigenous species interact within a dynamic and fully functioning system in perpetuity while conserving unique natural and cultural resources and maintaining opportunities for compatible scientific research, cultural, social and recreational activities.
Facts about the Carrizo Plain National Monument
On January 17, 2001, the President of the United States signed a proclamation designating the Carrizo Plain a National Monument.
Lying adjacent to the southwest edge of the San Joaquin Valley in eastern San Luis Obispo County, the Carrizo Plain is the largest remaining tract of the San Joaquin Valley biogeographic province with only limited evidence of human alteration. The 250,000 acre area is a diverse complex of habitats similar to those in the San Joaquin Valley that have become fragmented or destroyed. It includes the largest remaining contiguous habitats for many endangered, threatened and rare species of animals such as the San Joaquin kit fox, the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, the San Joaquin antelope squirrel and the giant kangaroo rat, and also provides habitat for many listed plant species including the California jewelflower, Hoover´s wooly-star and San Joaquin woolythreads. The Carrizo Plain has been a focal point identified in U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service recovery plans for land acquisition and management of these species. In addition, the Carrizo Plain National Monument provides important habitat for California condors as well as being the first area in California to reintroduce both the pronghorn antelope and the Tule elk, native ungulates that had been hunted nearly to extinction by the late 1800s. Mountain plovers use the Carrizo Plain as either a roosting place or as their winter home. A wide variety of raptor species also use the area for nesting, foraging and wintering.
Rich in Native American cultural values, the Carrizo was once an important area where the Chumash and Yokuts peoples traded, gathered food and held ceremonies. The Salinan tribal group immediately to the north of the Carrizo Plain also used the area. The landscape still holds remnants of a past, not all that long ago, when dryland farming and ranching were the predominant ways of life on the Plain.
The Carrizo Plain is a narrow valley grassland bordered on the east side by the Temblor Range and the San Andreas Fault. The west side is bordered by the Caliente Range which gives the Carrizo Plain its highest elevation point of 5,106 feet. The monument also includes the 19,000-acre of Caliente Mountain Wilderness Study Area. With direct influence from the San Andreas fault, the Carrizo Plain contains a 3,000 acre seasonal alkali lake, along with numerous vernal pools and sag ponds.
The size, resource and cultural values, isolation, and relatively undisturbed nature distinguish the Carrizo Plain National Monument as an ideal location to implement long-term conservation of vanishing San Joaquin Valley flora and fauna.