Bodie Hills, California
This roughly 123,000 acres of unprotected alpine terrain has high ecological intactness and species richness – from sage grouse to Sierra juniper. Due to its strong biodiversity values, parts of the Bodie Hills area are in the top 10% of all unprotected Bureau of Land Management lands in California based on biodiversity factors.
About the Bodie Hills
The Bodie Hills are located in central eastern California near the Nevada border. This vast landscape includes rounded volcanic mountains and colorful alpine meadows, lakes, and streams. Because the region serves as the transition zone between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the western edge of the Great Basin, it hosts a unique diversity of plant and animal species.
Here's what The Climate Atlas tells us about the Bodie Hills:
Conservation Opportunities: Unprotected BLM Lands
The Bodie Hills area consists of four parcels of unprotected lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (beige).
Context Layers: Important Management Areas
The Bodie Hills unprotected public lands serve as the connective tissue between federally protected lands (shown in purple, including two Wilderness Study Areas) and several important federal management areas.
These include two BLM ACECs (Areas of Critical and Environmental Concern): Bodie Bowl and Conway Summit (orange). ACECs are areas that require special management attention to protect important natural, scenic, or cultural values.
The region also contains several U.S. Forest Service Inventoried Roadless Areas (bright green). Inventoried Roadless areas are undeveloped areas that meet the qualifications of wilderness under the U.S. Wilderness Act.
Context Layer: Sage Grouse Priority Areas
Identified Sage Grouse Priority Areas are considered essential for the long-term conservation of the sage grouse, one of the most important species threatened by development and wildfires across the west.
The unprotected BLM lands in the Bodie Hills include a high concentration of identified Sage Grouse Priority Areas.
Model: Biodiversity Model
The Biodiversity Model incorporates three biodiversity indicators: ecological intactness, species richness, and ecological connectivity (the ability to support the movement of species).
The Biodiversity Model for Bodie Hills is high.
Conservation Opportunities: Model Results
The unprotected BLM lands within the Bodie Hills comprise around 122,710 acres and contain 1.95 megatons of carbon in the biomass and soil (above and below ground).
The unprotected public lands in Bodie Hills contain acres that are in the top 10% of all unprotected BLM lands in California with the highest conservation value based on the Biodiversity Model.
- The unprotected Bodie Hills lands serve as important connective tissue between key federal protected lands and management areas.
- They have high species richness, ecological intactness, and ecological connectivity.
- They have a high concentration of identified priority areas for sage grouse.
- Mining and wildfires are a direct threat to this largely intact landscape.
Why It Matters
A Scenic Wonderland
Bodie Hills serves as a transition zone between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Great Basin, making it a unique and varied landscape. It’s been identified as “among the most biodiverse in the Great Basin ecoregion.” Amid the rocky and rounded volcanic mountains, meadows, and aspen groves, ephemeral lakes fill in the vast open landscape.
Bodie Hills provides habitat for a variety of species including black bears, mountain lions, mule deer, golden eagles, and pronghorn antelope, which are rare in this part of California. The area is also home to the world’s largest population of the Bi-State sage grouse, known for its showy plumage and intricate mating dances.
Cultural and Recreational Values
The Bodie Hills contain one of the highest concentrations of archaeological resources in the Great Basin area. Early Native American peoples of the Mono and Northern Paiute tribes lived in the area and traded obsidian and other items with distant coastal tribes in Southern California.
Historically, areas near the Bodie Hills were mined for gold and silver, but the bulk of the region remains largely undisturbed and is at risk from extensive mineral exploration. Cattle and sheep graze the area, and the wild lands surrounding Bodie are a popular recreation destination for hikers, hunters, mountain bikers, and skiers.
Mining interests in Bodie Hills continue to threaten this spectacular landscape. Cougar Gold, a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest gold exploration companies, is among the companies interested in large-scale mining exploration in the region. As of 2018, more than 200 active mining claims remained in the Bodie Hills.
Grazing, mining, habitat loss, and wildfires across the west continue to threaten the habitat of the Bi-state sage grouse. Although the federal government denoted the Bodie Hills a sage grouse priority area, voluntary protection efforts have been unsuccessful and populations continue to plummet.
- In 2020, California became the first U.S. state to pledge to conserve 30 percent of its land and coastal water by 2030. As part of this executive order, Governor Gavin Newsom pledged to use California’s vast network of natural and working lands to store and remove carbon from the atmosphere.
- Protecting the Bodie Hills landscape is urgent to support dwindling populations of the Bi-State sage grouse, which is being urged for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act.
- Two local creeks, Rough and Atastra Creeks, are eligible for federal Wild and Scenic River status under the Bureau of Land Management. These streams have been found to provide suitable recovery habitat for the Lahontan Cutthroat trout, a federally listed Threatened species.