Sunday, August 11, 2013

Diablo Mountains Wilderness Inventory / JUNE 27 - 30 2013

I spent 3 days in the sagebrush sea that is the Diablo Uplift to participate in a Wilderness inventory with other volunteers of the Oregon Natural Desert Association. Utilizing digital cameras, maps, and GPS units, we traversed several "routes" to determine if they met the specific qualifications of being either a "road" or a "way". Wilderness designation allows for "ways" (unmaintained, primitive routes) within its boundaries, however Wilderness cannot contain "roads". One route in particular was so rugged that I abandoned any thought of using the truck and undertook an 8 mile hike, with fellow volunteer Mary, in order to document its entire length. The evidence collected from these routes will be used to illustrate the remote nature of this vast landscape and hopefully aid in its eventual designation as Wilderness.

Images were captured using a Canon G12. Some are date/time stamped for possible use in legal documents. 

our camp at an old watering hole 

not much of a "road"
hopsage - Grayia spinosa
along the way 

Mary traversing our route

a cicada 

Mary and I complete our 8 mile hike in the sage-sea 

back at camp, compiling and comparing data

Jefferson flying high

a Common Nighthawk

Dave inspects owl pellets beneath the one lone juniper I saw within the entire purposed Wilderness area

little brown jobs - possibly a Brewer's Sparrow
an insect gall on sagebrush

a Golden Eagle encountered along the way home


  1. Awesome!! Two questions:

    1. What happens if your group deems a route a "road"? Does some sort of reverse-maintenance magic have to occur to bring it back to a more wild setting?

    2. Do you know what's growing inside the basalt vesicles?

  2. Thanks Stacy!

    In response to your questions...

    1. The BLM contends that most of the routes in this purposed Wilderness are roads. Our purpose was to fact check their assessments. As I remember, our assessment was that most of the routes we traversed were most likely ways. However some were borderline, and a few may have in fact been roads. If a road exists, the proposed Wilderness boundaries can be redrawn, or the land could be subdivided, into separate WSAs for example. I'm sure something can be done to turn a "road" into a "way", although I'm not sure what circumstances such a procedure would be used in.

    2. The basalt is covered with lichens - the orange variety is most likely a species within the Xanthoria genus.