Chapter 11  - ACECs
South Sierra Management Area

Piute Cypress

The area is about two miles south of the town of Bodfish and is accessed by Saddle Springs Road. The Piute Cypress ACEC encompasses 865 acres of Federal surface and subsurface and 175 acres of Federal minerals.

Piute Cypress was designated as a BLM Natural Area under Public Land Order 3530. Under existing Bureau policy, Natural Areas are one of several designations that are now managed as ACECs. The 720-acre area was withdrawn from all forms of appropriation under the public land laws, including the mining laws, for the protection of the unique scientific values of the Piute Cypress (Cupressus nevadensis) on January 29, 1965. An additional 200 acres of Federally reserved mineral estate is included.

These lands are also within the Monache-Walker Pass National Cooperative Land and Wildlife Management Area (NCLWMA) established on January 26, 1962, by Public Land Order 2594. The NCLWMA is cooperatively managed with the California Department of Fish and Game under current public land laws.

The Piute Cypress Wilderness Study Area (WSA) (CA-010-046) is directly east of the ACEC. The WSA was recommended as unsuitable because of high potential for development of locatable mineral resources, the need for continued execution of fire management plans, adjacent community development, and continuance of the Monache-Walker Pass NCLWMA.

The Bodfish grove of Piute cypress extends immediately south into the Sequoia National Forest. The Forest Service classified their portion of the grove for protective status as a Botanical Area on June 2, 1970. Approximately 70 acres of the grove are privately owned.

The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) placed the Piute Cypress on its List 1B which includes plants that are rare, threatened, and endangered in California and elsewhere. All List 1B plants meet the definitions of Sec. 1901, Chapter 10 (Native Plant Protection) of the California Department of Fish and Game Code and are eligible for state listing.  The Bodfish grove is the type locality (location from which the species was first described) for the Piute cypress. There are only eleven known groves of Piute cypress which are scattered over the southernmost portion of the Sierra Nevada in Kern County and extreme southern Tulare County. The Bodfish grove is the largest and oldest colony comprising more than 50% of the total known range of the species. Thousands of trees of all ages grow here over a fairly wide area in chaparral and arid Douglas oak woodland.

Associated with the Piute cypress in the Bodfish grove are several other sensitive plant species including Pringles yampah, Piute jewel flower, Piute Mountains navarretia, and Kern River larkspur.

Piute jewel flower is known only from an extensive colony at the north end of the Piute Mountains occupying much the same area as the Bodfish Piute cypress grove. Piute Mountains navarretia, which is federally proposed as threatened, has a small scattered distribution in the west and southwest foothills of the Greenhorn Mountains, the Tehachapi Mountains at Grasshopper Flat, and at the base of the Piute Mountains. All known populations are found in heavy, clay-like soils. Pringle's yampah and Kern River larkspur are locally endemic to the southern Sierra and are considered rare but not endangered.

Piute cypress is dependent upon fire for regeneration. Stands of Piute cypress are primarily even-aged as a result of fire. Two different age classes exist at the Bodfish grove. The older age class is to the northwest of the young stand and is primarily on BLM land.

Presently Sections 24 and 25, T. 27 S., R. 32 E., are part of grazing allotment 119.

Geology of the ACEC is characterized by pre-Cretaceous metasedimentary rocks which have been intruded by Cretaceous mafic rocks. The mafic rocks consist of olivine gabbro, gabbro, anorthositic gabbro and dunite which is in part serpentinized.

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At the contact of these units just south of the ACEC, is located the Tripoli tungsten mine. This contact crosses the ACEC. The area has moderate potential for tungsten and associated locatable minerals. It also has moderate potential for geothermal resources.

This site continues to meet the relevance and importance criteria for ACECs. Consideration for continued designation as an ACEC is warranted because the area requires special management to protect and enhance the unique botanical resources.

Objective      Manage the Piute Cypress ACEC to protect the Piute cypress grove and other associated sensitive plant species.

Management Prescriptions

The ACEC is closed to oil, gas, and geothermal leasing.

The ACEC is available for livestock grazing and is currently allotted. Grazing operations shall be adjusted or terminated within the cypress community following the completion of studies if they are shown to have a negative effect upon the plant community.

Collection of vegetative materials within the ACEC requires authorization.

Access off designated routes of travel is restricted to pedestrian travel.

Manage as a Day Use area.

Support Actions

Studies to ascertain the effects of livestock grazing upon the Piute cypress plant community shall be initiated. A grazing exclosure shall be constructed as a part of this study.

A fire management plan shall be developed to enhance the regeneration of Piute Cypress.

Legal Description

T. 27 S., R. 33 E., MDB&M
Sec. 19

T. 27 S., R. 32 E., MDB&M
Sec. 24 E½SW¼, SE¼
Sec. 25 NE¼, NE¼NW¼

Area Map

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