Amargosa River, Proposed Wild & Scenic River Additions

Amargosa River
Amargosa River; © Susan Sorrells

Size: Approximately 2 miles added to the Amargosa WSR River (P.L. 111‐11) and 1.4 miles as a potential addition once private in holdings are acquired.

Management Agency: Bureau of Land Management, Barstow Field Office

Location: Near the towns of Shoshone and Tecopa.

Maps: BLM Desert Access Guide Owlshead Mountains

Landscape and History

The Amargosa River has been called the crown jewel of the Mojave Desert. Its origins begin in the southern Great Basin desert in Nevada and it meanders 200 miles, largely underground but surfacing to form life‐giving oases near Shoshone, Tecopa, and through the Amargosa Canyon. It finally winds its way to ancient Lake Manly on the floor of Death Valley at 282 feet below sea level, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. Burgeoning cities across the California‐Nevada border have caused overdrawing of ground water resources in the Amargosa Valley. The effect is a decreased flow of the Amargosa River, causing negative impacts to this unique and fragile ecosystem and the communities and businesses that depend on it. In addition, the Amargosa River’s sensitive natural and cultural values are threatened by uncontrolled off road vehicle use. While 26 miles of the river enjoys the federal wild and scenic designation, a recent land acquisition would allow 2 more miles near Shoshone to be added to the river with the opportunity to protect 2 additional miles contingent on future acquisitions.

Wildlife and Plants

Geographic isolation caused by climate change since the Ice Age has made the river’s oases the final aquatic refuges for rare and endangered species that have survived here and speciated over the past 10,000 years. Species include: Amargosa vole, Amargosa Toad, least Bell’s vireo, southwestern willow flycatcher, Amargosa pupfish, speckled dace, and Amargosa niterwort. About fifty unique species are found only here.

Activity Highlight

Bird watching. Lush springs support riparian bird species, like the least Bells vireo and the southwestern willow flycatcher, both federally listed endangered species. Also found are California state listed Species of Special Concern like the yellow warbler, yellow‐ breasted chat, vermillian flycatcher, and Virginia warbler.

For More Information

Steve Evans, Conservation Director, Friends of the River | (916) 442 3155

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