Surprise Canyon At Risk
A battle is underway over a canyon that runs across BLM and National
Park Service lands to Panamint City, a long abandoned mining camp
within Death Valley National Park through a rare desert stream:
Read an account from the Pahrump Valley Times.
photos of the
beautiful canyon and the rare wildlife found there.
Some folks look at
Surprise Canyon, and instead of seeing a miraculous desert stream see
a place to scrape and winch through.
of extreme jeeping in the canyon (before it was shut down as
damaging the health of the stream and ecosystem).
In 1993, before BLM closed Surprise
Canyon, Auto Week published an eye-opening article on what it took
(winches, boards, rocks, etc.) to "drive" a car along this alleged
"highway." Read about the extremes to which one must go to move a
vehicle through what is now a desert oasis.
For background, read
environmental analyses and their
decision closing the Canyon to motor vehicles because of the
damage it would cause to this unique place. Conservation groups
supported a closure in a
2002 letter to BLM.
Senators chime in, urging BLM to permanently close the stream to
vehicles in a
December 2005 letter.
area’s fragile nature, “property owners” in 2006 sue to use the stream
to access their property in the ghost town.
Read their complaint. And who are these property owners? Off-road vehicle
enthusiasts using their newly-acquired property as a legal lever to
drive in the canyon.
respond by seeking to be allowed into the suit to defend Surprise
Canyon. See their
Nov. 30, 2006, press release.
a November 28, 2006 article from the LA Times.
read a November 2006 article. And a
December 18, 2006 story in USA Today. Also,
check out a December 25, 2006 Riverside Press Enterprise editorial.
2007: Two attempts by
ORV groups to gain access to Canyon fail
Off-road vehicle interest groups claimed a
right-of-way through the fragile Surprise Canyon and lost in federal
district court. Read a
July 28, 2007 Inyo Register article about Judge O'Neill's
Decision. The groups tried again. And they were denied again,
this time by Judge Alsup, in an important move toward
protecting the desert ecosystem and its endangered wildlife.
Read a September 18, 2007 article to learn more. Also,
read a July 27, 2007 article in the San Jose Mercury.