Benton Hot Springs Ranch Conservation Easement

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Benton Hot Springs Ranch Conservation Easement 2018-04-19T21:11:33+00:00

Project Description

Bill Bramlette, landowner of Benton Hot Springs Ranch

Bill Bramlette’s family has worked the land at Benton Hot Springs Ranch for nearly a century. As the property’s third-generation rancher, Bill is committed to making sure that tradition continues.

“The number one thing for me is that, even when I’m gone, this land will forever remain as it is right now – as it was when my family first moved onto it,” Bill told us.

When houses started appearing along the edge of the Benton Hot Springs Valley, he saw the writing on the wall. He knew that sooner or later developers would come calling – and so he decided to take action to make sure his land would remain open.

Thanks to conservation supporters like you, he was able to make this dream a reality.

In 2008, Bill Bramlette partnered with Eastern Sierra Land Trust to permanently conserve 900 acres at Benton Hot Springs Ranch. Because of his foresight, this unique place – with its water resources, historic ties, ranching legacy, and diverse wildlife – will continue to benefit our Eastern Sierra community for generations to come.

Please note: this is a private property. Eastern Sierra Land Trust occasionally hosts birdwatching outings, native wildflower walks, and other events at the Ranch.

Check out our events calendar to see if there’s an event coming up! If you’d like to explore on your own time, we recommend visiting the Ranch as a guest at The Inn at Benton Hot Springs.

Paradise For Migrating Birds and Other Wildlife

With the natural springs, seeps, ponds, and creeks found at Benton Hot Springs Ranch, you can spot a diverse array of migrating and resident waterfowl, songbirds, raptors, and more.

Below are three of the many notable bird species that can be seen at Benton Hot Springs Ranch. For a list of all 129 birds that have been spotted on this conserved property, Click Here >>

In addition to offering important habitat to birds, the Ranch’s ponds and creeks are also home to a number of different aquatic invertebrates, such as Wong’s springsnail.

Upland areas overlooking the wet meadows provide sagebrush scrub habitat that give mule deer, bobcat, mountain lion, and other mammals the seclusion and space they need to thrive.

A couple years back, our wildlife camera caught this image of a bobcat posing for us in front of the ponds at Benton Hot Springs!

Rare Plants Abound

This property includes extensive alkali meadows that foster a vibrant plant community – one of the rarest in California. Many rare plants have been seen at Benton Hot Springs Ranch, including the stunning Inyo County star-tulip, shown at right.

Aerial image of Benton Ponds, showing the canyon at the north end.

A Geologic Marvel

During the ice age, a freshwater lake called Lake Russell filled much of the Mono Basin – it was seven times deeper and five times larger than today’s Mono Lake. When Lake Russell reached its maximum extent, it carved a glacial spillway southward into the Owens River, and eventually down to what is now Death Valley. On its journey southward, this ancient ice flow created a canyon at the north end of Benton Hot Springs Ranch.

As the property’s name suggests, it is home to a significant hot springs – which produces between 700 and 900 gallons of 139° water per minute! This water is very pure, absent of the high levels of minerals that are characteristic of many hot springs.

History Come Alive

Benton is one of the oldest existing towns in Mono County. Benton Hot Springs Ranch lies between its original location, Old Benton, and today’s town of Benton at the corner of Highways 6 and 120 East. Many historic buildings at the ranch hark back to the silver boom days of the late 1800’s.

One particular foundation on the property is one of the oldest known structures in all of Mono County.

Even before the first European settlers stepped foot here, prehistoric tribes treasured this area. Lithic scatter and other signs of Native American use (below) have been found over the years. Note: if you visit Benton Hot Springs Ranch and discover artifacts, leave them where they lay! It is illegal to remove them.

For over a century, cattle grazing at the Ranch has been an important resource for the local community – a use that continues to this day. The number of animals, timing, and duration of grazing is all carefully managed according to a conservation plan that ensures that the unique natural resources on the property are maintained.

On their property, Bill and his wife Diane operate The Inn at Benton Hot Springs, where guests can come to get away from the city, soak in the hot springs, admire the impressive views, and take in a bit of local history.

Bill Bramlette also runs an independent non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the historic values of the Benton Hot Springs Ranch and sharing this slice of early Americana with the community. Click here to learn more

What’s Next: Restoring Important Habitat at Benton Hot Springs Ranch

For several years, Eastern Sierra Land Trust has been teaming up with landowner Bill Bramlette, local volunteers, and partners from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and CalFire to enhance the important wetland habitat at Benton Hot Springs Ranch. This included a prescribed burn to eradicate aggressive vegetation, which was completed at the end of 2017. The goal of this ongoing project is to reintroduce a rare native desert fish, the Owens speckled dace, into their historic home in the property’s ponds.

Volunteers join us at Benton Hot Springs Ranch throughout the year to remove invasive weeds and improve the conditions at the ponds. We’re always looking for extra hands! Click Here to learn more about volunteering with Eastern Sierra Land Trust

 

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Project Details

Size:

900 acres

Location:

East of Old Benton, Mono County

Date Completed:

Easement purchased in January 2008

Property Owner:

Bill Bramlette

Funding Source:

  • State of California Resources Agency
  • Sierra Nevada-Cascade Conservation Grant Program (Prop. 50)
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Program Areas: