Saline Valley/Warm Springs Management Plan saves almost everything

By Deb Murphy

A couple of things stood out during the presentation of the Saline Valley/Warm Springs Management Plan at last week’s Inyo Board of Supervisors meeting: Hippie culture is old enough to be considered historic and nudity is totally cool, unless you’re a burro.

When the completion of the draft plan by Death Valley National Park staff was announced, there was a ripple of fear the ambiance of the remote place would be ruined. That’s not going to happen.

As for the burros, they’ll be fenced out of the springs and camping areas. Planner Abby Wines estimated there are roughly 4,000 of the fuzzy little creatures who call the desert home. The goal is zero. The Park has partnered with Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue to trap and relocate 2,500.

Here’s a brief rundown of the Park’s preferred alternative draft plan:

  • Camping will require permits and be limited to 30 days. The details of how permitting will be handled have yet to be worked out.

  • The palm trees, not native to the area, will be removed from the upper, undeveloped spring. The rest will be allowed to die a natural death and any volunteers will be removed.

  • While the Chicken Strip, aka landing strip, is technically illegal, it has not been identified as such and the Park will promote it as if it is legal. Not sure how that’s going to work, but the Recreation Aviation Foundation has a Memorandum of Understanding to maintain the strip.

  • The Auto Shop, aka vehicle support shack, will be removed. That caused some concern among the Supervisors considering the area is, literally, far out. However, Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds explained the guy who runs the shop is a 70-year old retired mechanic who lives in the valley year-round. “The chances of replacing him is zero,” Reynolds said. The operation is not sustainable.

  • A lot of the artwork is old enough to be considered historical features and will remain. Artwork on the ground will be removed and no new art projects will be allowed.

  • Most of Inyo County’s concerns have been addressed. The County had noted the full range of development, specifically intensive development, had not been included. None of the Supervisors wanted to see a plan that included intensive development.

Board members had some questions, but generally liked the draft alternative plan. Noting the planning process took six years, Supervisor Matt Kingsley, whose fifth district includes Saline, asked that implementation be done at the same leisurely pace to give visitors a chance to get used to the changes.


2 Responses to Saline Valley/Warm Springs Management Plan saves almost everything

  1. sierragrl May 24, 2018 at 1:21 pm #

    And….as for MIke Reynolds comments about the vehicle support shop, that’s ludicrous. Too many visitors are coming out to the springs, due to the internet and social media, who have no business driving out to this remote area. They come out unprepared and end up needing tire services.

    The Host, who DVNP has asked to be out there as part of a group of volunteers who maintain the springs, started providing this service for those unprepared people. There is no ‘shop’, there’s no building, no garage.

    Obviously the current host can’t be the host forever, but at this point in time, DVNP wants someone to be the host. Perhaps the next host won’t want to provide this service, who knows, but I can’t see that as a reason to force it to end now.

    That logic is assinine and shows the evil intent and underhanded proceedings of DVNP. Their attempt to spin this as benign is evil.

  2. sierragrl May 24, 2018 at 1:08 pm #

    Whoa…so NOT correct. I’ve read the document, EVERY alternative under consideration will ultimately render the springs uninviting to humans.

    They propose stopping the flow of water that has allowed shade tree/bush growth. They propose no camping within 200′ of the sources, and eventually eliminating all palm trees. That will cause ALL camping areas to be in unshaded areas and for the tubs themselves to be totally shade free also. They propose removal of the wonderful grass area that makes the hot days bearable.

    All of these proposals will limit use of the springs by humans to mild times of the year and change the user experience greatly.

    If DVNP portrayed their proposal as ‘status quo’ then shame on them. That is a blatant lie…I’m not one to typically call someone out like that but this is truly dispicable on their part. At least be upfront with the change they will be enacting.

    Read the document for yourselves, hopefully the media will do some real reporting too. Educate yourselves and comment. In 30 years no-one will be out there enjoying the springs if the park gets away with this.


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