Monument Monday: Carrizo Plain National Monument Turns 13
The Carrizo Plain, 100 airline miles north of Los Angeles, California, is an area by-passed by time. Soda Lake, its centerpiece, is a glistening bed of white salt, set within a vast open grassland, rimmed by mountains.
Full of natural splendor and rich in human history, the grasslands and stark ridges of the Carrizo Plain National Monument contain exceptional objects of scientific and historic interest. Encompassing more than 200,000 acres, the monument was established by presidential proclamation in 2001. The Monument is home to the largest concentration of endangered species in all of California, in part because the remote 45-mile-long plain is an ecological “island.” It is California’s single largest remaining remnant of native grassland that was once abundant in the southern San Joaquin Valley.
The Carrizo Plain National Monument provides a diverse habitat for threatened and endangered species. Some of these species, such as the San Joaquin kit fox, can be seen in the spring when the pups are out exploring and sunning themselves.
If the rains have been favorable, visitors will enjoy a beautiful wildflower display that often covers the entire valley floor. During the winter months, many migratory birds call Carrizo their home; they can be seen soaring over the plains.
One of the best-kept secrets of the monument is its solitude. Located in the central portion of California, between the Bay Area and Los Angles, the monument is peaceful and quiet. You can often travel through the monument all day without seeing another person, especially during certain times of the year.
The Carrizo Plain National Monument is cooperatively managed by the Bureau of Land Management, The Nature Conservancy and the California Fish and Wildlife Service. The monument has two gateway communities, Taft to the East and Santa Margarita to the West. Both towns offer supplies for a visit to the remote monument. Other active groups on the monument are the Friends of the Carrizo and the Native American communities. These groups and others, along with committed members of the general public, continue to ensure the Carrizo is sustained for generations to come.
Visit the Carrizo Plain National Monument website to learn more about this amazing landscape. Landscape photos by Bob Wick, BLM California.
The Carrizo Plain National Monument is one of 19 national monuments, in nine western states, managed by the Bureau of Land Management’s National Conservation Lands. These national monuments encompass landscapes of tremendous beauty and diversity, ranging from rugged California coastline to vividly-hued desert canyons. CLICK HERE to learn more about the BLM’s conservation lands.