Chapter 12 - Special Management Area Descriptions
South Sierra Management Area

Erskine Creek

Erskine Creek consists of 2,960 acres of Federal surface and 480 acres of Federal mineral estate. The area is approximately three miles southeast of the town of Lake Isabella, and borders the Sequoia National Forest.

All of the SMA except for Section 24 is 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. About half of this SMA is also within the Piute Cypress Wilderness Study Area (CA-010-046), which was recommended as unsuitable by the Bureau.

The Valley View Mining District, established in 1865 encompassed the Erskine Creek Area. Intermittent mining activity continued through the 1910s. These early mines were developed for gold, antimony and copper. During the 1950s uranium was discovered and prospected southwest of Laura Peak and southeast of the mouth of Erskine Creek.  At this same time tungsten was produced at the Unip mine 1/4 mile northwest of the junction of Willow Gulch and Erskine Creek. Near the head of Spring Gulch tungsten was prospected at the Christmas Tree mine. In the 1970s the Rampors Company explored an area in the SE¼ Sec. 9 and the SW¼ Sec. 10, presumably for gold. During the 1980s the Erskine Creek drainage has been prospected for placer gold and garnets. In addition to the above named mines and prospects, there are numerous unnamed prospects on public lands within the Erskine Creek drainage.

Within the Bodfish Creek drainage, the Mondora (or Polka Dot) mine was active in the 1890s. The foundation of a mill standing in the NW¼ Sec. 21 presumably served this mine, and dates from this period. In the 1970s and early 1980s this mine was worked and a mill was constructed about 500 feet south of the old mill site. The mine is now abandoned. There are other prospects just a few tens of feet south of the USFS boundary in Sec. 28 along Bodfish Creek.

The Erskine Creek SMA has moderate to high potential for gold and tungsten, and low to moderate potential for development of limestone.

The proposed Erskine Creek SMA is underlain by metasedimentary, metavolcanic and granitic rocks. There are relatively extensive marble/limestone outcrops in which caves have developed. There are three known caves, each with vertical entrances up to 120 feet deep. Several small chimneys or openings are also known from this vicinity. These are the only caves on public land in the Resource Area, and they provide the only vertical caving opportunities in the region.

Vegetative communities include open digger pine woodland, chaparral, Mojavean pinyon woodland, Mojavean desert scrub, and riparian woodland. The riparian area along the creek, which includes sycamores and willows, has sustained numerous impacts from unauthorized activities. The riparian area has high potential for supporting the federal and state endangered southwestern willow flycatcher. Many neotropical birds nest and migrate along the drainage. The caves are known to provide habitat for Townsend big-eared bats. In addition, the caves may contain unique cave adapted species, although no inventories have been conducted. The Piute Mountains jewelflower is known to occur here, and there is a high potential for the Kern Canyon larkspur to occur within this proposed SMA. Both of these species are considered sensitive.

There are no grazing or oil and gas leases within this SMA. There are 30 mining claims within the area.

Objective   Manage the Erskine Creek SMA to protect the limestone caves, riparian areas, Kern County larkspur (Delphinium purpursii) and the Piute Mountains jewelflower (Streptanthus cordatus var. piutensis).

Management Prescriptions

The SMA is closed to the leasing of oil, gas and geothermal resources. About half of the southwestern portion of the SMA is within the Piute Cypress WSA where no new oil, gas, and geothermal leases may be issued.

N1/2 Sec. 22 and SE1/4SW1/4 Sec. 15, T. 27 S., R. 33 E., MDB&M, shall be proposed for withdrawal from entry under the mining laws.

A portion of the SMA is available for livestock grazing if riparian resource concerns can be met. A portion of the SMA is unavailable for livestock grazing due to their unsuitability.

Legal Description

FEDERAL SURFACE AND SUBSURFACE

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

Secs. 9 S½S½

Sec. 14 SE¼SW¼,

Sec. 15 N½NW¼, S½SW¼,

Sec. 16

Sec. 17 E½E½NE¼,

Sec. 20 NE¼NE¼

Sec. 21

Sec. 22

Sec. 23 N½NE¼, NW¼, S½

Sec. 24 NW¼SW¼
 

FEDERAL SUBSURFACE ONLY

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

Sec. 14 W½SW¼,

Sec. 15 SE¼NE¼, S½NW¼,

N½SW¼, SE¼,

Sec. 24 SE¼SW¼

Area Map

Page 148

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