[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
April 23
1986 - COC board votes to allow Argentine cliff swallows to nest forever on sides of buildings [story]

Commentary by Linda Castro
| Thursday, Feb 19, 2015

LindaCastroThe Amargosa vole (Microtus californicus scirpensis) is a desert subspecies of the California vole (Microtus californicus). A vole is a small rodent that resembles a mouse, with a rounded muzzle.

The Amargosa vole was previously thought to be extinct. However, in the late 1970s, Vernon Bleich, a biologist, rediscovered it. In 1980 it was listed as a California endangered species, and in 1984, it was listed as a federal endangered species, with a designated critical habitat.

The habitat of the Amargosa vole consists of marshlands in and around Tecopa, Calif., which is located in southeastern Inyo County in the central Mojave Desert. Scientists estimate its habitat consists of only about 247 acres, making this species extremely vulnerable to extinction.

These wetlands usually exist as small, isolated patches, rarely exceeding five acres each. The small, rare habitats – and thus the range of the Amargosa vole – historically occurred along the Amargosa River corridor from Shoshone, Calif., to the northern portion of the Amargosa Canyon south of Tecopa.

These habitats have been steadily decreasing due to water diversion, groundwater withdrawals and invasive species such as salt cedar (Tamarix ramosissima). The only suitable habitat that remains is primarily located in and around Tecopa Hot Springs.

Photos: Ad Hoc Amargosa Vole Recovery Team

Photos: Ad Hoc Amargosa Vole Recovery Team

As a result of the loss of habitat, the Amargosa vole is critically endangered. It could easily qualify as the most endangered mammal in North America with perhaps as few as 50 individuals left in the wild. This imperiled species will only survive if the flow of groundwater that feeds the springs it relies upon are assured.

The Amargosa watershed is a series of interconnected basins, all of which drain into the Amargosa River. The Amargosa River is one of only two perennial rivers in the Mojave Desert and one of the only free-flowing desert rivers in the United States.

The 150-mile, bi-state river and its spring and stream tributaries support a truly unique and rich riparian and aquatic natural community. Perennial surface water is located in isolated small oases, streams, springs and in very limited stretches of the Amargosa River.

Except during occasional intense rainstorms, the perennial flow in much of the Amargosa River is completely supplied by groundwater. Several significant springs emerge along the river corridor between Shoshone and the Amargosa River Canyon south of Tecopa that contribute to the flow of the Amargosa River.

Many of these spring flows arise from a regional carbonate aquifer that conveys water from sources far beyond the Amargosa Basin. The flows from these springs and others are supplemented by groundwater moving below ground through the sediments of the southern Amargosa Desert and Pahrump valleys at the California-Nevada border. Conserving the valleys that make up the Amargosa watershed (Chicago Valley and California Valley-Charleston View) is a key action that could help save the vole.

vole1Unfortunately, developers are eyeing the Amargosa valleys as potential areas to build large-scale, renewable energy projects, particularly solar projects. Large-scale solar projects have many negative side effects, the most impactful to the Amargosa vole being the extraordinary amount of water that these plants use, both in the creation of power and in the maintenance of the panels. If a large-scale solar project is approved and built in any of part of the Amargosa watershed, it would likely result in the extinction of the Amargosa vole.

Thankfully, there are comprehensive efforts underway to save the vole. The Ad Hoc Amargosa Vole Recovery Team, composed of federal, state, university and nonprofit members, is working toward re-establishing viable populations of Amargosa voles in a series of interconnected habitats. Scientists are studying the vole’s habitat and population dynamics, patterns of disease and genetic makeup. The Amargosa Conservancy, a nonprofit based in Shoshone, is conducting user impacts monitoring, providing support to vole researchers, and advocating for groundwater resources.

Perhaps most exciting, U.C. Davis and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have begun a captive breeding program with the intent of releasing voles into re-created habitats at sites formerly inhabited by the vole.

While this little furry creature’s existence may be precarious, there are many people fighting to save it.

Patrick Donnelly, Executive Director of the Amargosa Conservancy, explains why the Amargosa vole is so important to the Amargosa River region: “The Amargosa vole is the most pressing conservation issue in the Amargosa watershed. The vole is an indicator of the health of our spring-fed marshes and the amount of groundwater flowing through them. Thus, the well-being of our community and its access to drinking water is tied to the conservation of the Amargosa vole.”

To find out more about conservation efforts in the Amargosa watershed related to the vole and other topics, visit www.amargosaconservancy.org.

While there isn’t much that the average Santa Clarita Valley resident can do to help protect the Amargosa vole from extinction, there is one small action that can be taken. The Bureau of Land Management has released a draft plan for California’s deserts called the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. The purpose of the plan is to identify areas where renewable energy development will be allowed and where it will not be allowed.

Thankfully, much of the valleys that make up the Amargosa River watershed are protected from development under the plan. However, the California Valley-Charleston View area has a bull’s-eye on it. The BLM is proposing to allow large-scale renewable energy projects in the area. This could prove catastrophic to the continued viability and existence of the Amargosa vole.

If you would like to help keep the Amargosa vole from becoming extinct, and if you would like to support asking the BLM to keep other desert lands off-limits to large-scale renewable energy development, please use this link to access more information and a proposed comment letter to the BLM: www.calwild.org/desert_energy_plan_is_a_threat_an_opportunity. The deadline to send a letter to the BLM is only a few days away – Monday, Feb. 23, 2015.

Linda Castro is a nature enthusiast and animal lover. She is the Desert Field Organizer for the California Wilderness Coalition and serves on the board of the SCV-based Community Hiking Club. Her articles highlight local and community stories that are heartwarming, uplifting or inspiring.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment

Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
Monday, Apr 16, 2018
The best way to fight kidney disease is to find it before trouble starts. But if you’ve already been diagnosed, Medicare can help you make informed decisions about your care.
Thursday, Apr 12, 2018
In 2016, California voters went to the polls and made it clear they wanted elected state officials to spend more money on school construction and passed Proposition 51 to invest $9 billion to upgrade aging buildings, build new schools where needed and build Career Technical Education (CTE) facilities to support better CTE programs.
Wednesday, Apr 11, 2018
Despite voter approval of construction funds in 2016, school districts are struggling to explain to their communities why the state is refusing to release the majority of the money.
Tuesday, Apr 3, 2018
“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” — Frank Lloyd Wright
Monday, Apr 2, 2018
Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste and the City Council invite residents to celebrate the 25th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, which officially kicks off April 19.
Friday, Mar 16, 2018
Quentin Kopp, retired judge and Bay Area politician, was once chairman of the High-Speed Rail Authority and helped sell the bullet train to voters. He’s now suing to stop it, saying, "The litigation, which is pending, will result, I am confident, in the termination of the High-Speed Rail Authority's deceiving plan."

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1986 - COC board votes to allow Argentine cliff swallows to nest forever on sides of buildings [story]
Veterans of the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival stage were honored Saturday night as the city celebrated the festival’s silver anniversary at William S. Hart Park in Newhall.
Stars Share Spotlight as Cowboy Festival Turns 25
1974 - Gov. Ronald Reagan speaks at dedication of COC's first permanent building, the William G. Bonelli Instructional Resource Center [story]
1994 - Valencia Mercedes co-owner Eddie Murray sets MLB record for switch-hit home runs in games (11 times) [story]
A 25-year-old woman has been charged with shooting her boyfriend to death in the parking lot of a Canoga Park bar, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.
Newhall Woman Charged with Murder of Boyfriend
The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts will host the legendary rapper Kurtis Walker, aka Kurtis Blow, as part of its visiting artist series, on Monday and Tuesday, April 23 and 24, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
Rapper Kurtis Blow Is CalArts’ Visiting Artist for Music
The five filmmakers selected for California State University, Northridge’s 28th annual Senior Film Showcase on May 2 are women, and their stories reflect the rich diversity of perspectives that make up America.
May 2: CSUN to Spotlight Hollywood’s Future Filmmakers
The CalArts School of Theater presented the graduating class of the Acting Program in a bi-coastal Actors Showcase at the Colony Theater in Burbank on Monday, April 16.
CalArts Actors Showcase Celebrates Graduating Class
TMU coach Zach Schroeder has said for weeks that this week's track meet in Azusa, California, would be crucial as far as Mustangs advancing to NAIA nationals.
Two Mustangs Qualify for NAIA Track Nationals
Heath Holder delivered four shutout innings in the first start of his professional career, but the JetHawks dropped the series opener to the Inland Empire 66ers, 8-3, on Thursday night at San Manuel Stadium.
Holder Strong in Season Debut, But JetHawks Fall 8-3
Santa Clarita-based Carnival Corporation and plc, the world’s largest leisure travel company, has made several key senior executive appointments and promotions to serve its multiple brands and business units globally.
Carnival Names New Execs for 4 Cruise Lines
The Saugus Union School District has set its 2018 open house schedule to provide opportunities for Saugus parents to visit their children’s classrooms to view the amazing work accomplished this school year.
Saugus School District Slates 2018 Open House Events
SCV Kids Consignment, part of the LA Kids Consignment family of sales, continues its spring sale Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22 in Castaic from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
April 21-22: SCV Kids Consignment Spring Sale in Castaic
The Castaic Union School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a three-percent raise and a bonus for its educators at last week’s board meeting.
Castaic School Board OKs First Teacher Pay Raise in 12 Years
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, April 24, starting at 9:30 a.m.
April 24: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
Good seats are still available but going fast for the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival's 25th-anniversary gala celebration at Hart Hall on Saturday, April 21 from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
April 21: Gala Celebrates Cowboy Festival 25th Anniversary
The Final Environmental Assessment, draft Decision Notice, and Finding of No Significant Impact for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Plan are complete, and a 45-day official objection period begins Friday before one of three options is chosen.
Forest Service Asks Public’s Input on San Gabriel Mountains Monument Plan
A Stevenson Ranch resident is missing more than $9,000 in jewelry, and suspects her roommates, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station Deputy Kevin Duxbury reported in a post on the station's Facebook page
Grand Theft Prompts Victim to Suspect Roommates
Monday, April 23 is the deadline to apply for street pole Hometown Heroes military banners to be displayed by the city of Santa Clarita on Memorial Day, saluting actively serving military members from the Santa Clarita Valley.
April 23: Deadline to Order Hometown Heroes Military Banners
The Hart High School Baseball Program and the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley will again present Hart Baseball Bingo Night at the Newhall club on Saturday, May 12, starting at 5 p.m.
May 12: Bingo Night Fundraiser for Hart Baseball Program
California State University will not increase tuition for the 2018-19 academic year, but will continue to fight for increased funding to meet its current needs, according to Chancellor Timothy P. White.
California State University Decides Not to Increase 2018 Tuition
Wednesday, May 2 is the deadline to apply for one of 23 positions with the Santa Clarita Library.
May 2: Deadline to Apply for 23 Santa Clarita Library Jobs
1874 - First train out of L.A. to reach new town of San Fernando; Newhall 2 years later [story]
NORTHRIDGE - CSUN beach volleyball honored its first seniors Thursday, just after the Matadors improved to 15-6 with a 5-0 sweep over Cal State Los Angeles at the CSUN Beach Volleyball Facility.
Matadors Celebrate Senior Day, Sweep of UC Irvine
Parents from Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts, and Sciences were notified Wednesday that Einstein will surrender its charter from the Acton Agua Dulce Unified School District and shutter its campuses.
Einstein Academy to Close Charter Schools
NORTHRIDGE - CSUN Baseball (17-19, 5-4 BWC) resume Big West play this weekend with a three-game series against UC Irvine at Matador Field.
Matadors Resume Big West Play with 3 Game Set Against UC Irvine
The California Enterprise Development Authority will hold a teleconference meeting Thursday, April 26, at 10:30 a.m.
April 26: California Enterprise Development Authority Teleconference Meeting
The Santa Clarita City Council will be holding its regular meeting Tuesday, April 24, at 6:00 p.m.
April 24: City Council Regular Meeting
Solo Flight Swing is a Southern California-based western swing band that performs hot western-swing, dixie, bop, originals, and covers.
April 20: Solo Flight Swing at The MAIN
The County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) celebrates National Volunteer Appreciation Week starting on April 15 - April 22.
Volunteers of the Year Recognized by County Animal Control
In partnership with the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center and Alzheimer's Greater Los Angeles, College of the Canyons will be offering the next workshop for family caregivers.
April 28: Family Caregivers Workshop
Once again, the Paseo Aquatics Club entered the pool undermanned and underdogs, and came away with an impressive 15th place finish against 75 other teams, many of which were double and triple in size, at the recent Speedo Short Course Far Western Championships hosted by Santa Clara Swim Club.
Underdogs Paseo Aquatics Club Holds Their Own in Top State Meet
A reckless driver on Railroad Avenue led to a pursuit that landed four suspects in custody on Wednesday.
Newhall Pursuit Ends with Four Suspects in Custody
LANCASTER - Rancho Cucamonga homered five times Wednesday night as Lancaster fell, 11-4, in the series finale at The Hangar. Rancho’s Rylan Bannon became the second California League player this season to hit three home runs in a game.
JetHawks Fall to Quakes in Series Finale
Here is the Stevenson Ranch Crime Information and Public Safety Report for the week of April 9 - 15:
Crime Blotter: Assault, Grand Theft Auto, Burglary in Stevenson Ranch
SACRAMENTO - California State Auditor released Thursday an audit requested by Senator Scott Wilk, R - Antelope Valley, last spring concerning homelessness in California and specifically the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority's administration of public funds.
Audit on Homelessness Highlights Need for Improvement, Services