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Inyo County Goes After Death Valley

In October 2006, as San Bernardino filed its suit to take over routes in the Mohave Preserve, its neighbor, Inyo County filed a suit of its own.  Inyo’s suit seeks to open three routes inside designated wilderness in the lower 48’s largest national Park:  Death Valley.  The complaint includes maps of the claims. 

Inyo County trumpets its suit on its website, which includes conflicting maps, descriptions of each route, and minutes of county meetings.

 What resources are at stake?  See an overview map.

-- Greenwater Canyon.  The County seeks to open one route through Greenwater Canyon, which contains significant Indian rock art (petroglyphs).   See a map of the route

-- Greenwater Valley, to the south of Greenwater Canyon, was previously (and illegally) bulldozed by Inyo County.  Conservation groups protested the action in a 2004 letter. The Park Service partially re-vegetated the route shortly after the bulldozing.  Read a spring 2004 Sierra Club newsletter about Inyo County’s bulldozing and the Park Service’s efforts to recover the area.   See a map of the route. 

-- Last Chance Canyon.  A third route drops down a large, nearly vertical cliff in Last Chance Canyon. See a map of the route. See photos from a recent visit to the route (at right). 

Click on photos for larger versions

January 18, 2007: Conservation groups move to join the suit to defend public lands.  Read their press release and their motion to intervene, which explains why opening these routes to vehicles would degrade the Park.  The media also picked up the story – see an AP story from January 18, 2007.  

Read a lively discussion about the impact of Inyo County’s suit in a blog about National Park Service issues

Learn more about Death Valley National Park – the largest national park in the lower 48 states.

Summer 2007: A federal district court judge ordered that conservation groups must be included in Death Valley suit, a huge victory for our public lands.



A hiker in Last Chance Canyon.  Inyo County seeks the right to turn this canyon into a two-lane highway. All photos © Tom Budlong, 2007, used with permission.

The wall at the headwaters of Last Chance Canyon.  Inyo County claims a two lane highway should descend this ridge.

The same ridge from on top.

A two-lane highway?


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