Today I got to wander around one of the ESLT’s conservation easements, Benton Hot Springs Ranch, with our Executive Director Karen, our Stewardship Coordinator Aaron, and two Audubon Birding specialists, Claus and Connie Engelhardt. We were preparing for the field trip on Saturday, May 16th, in collaboration with Bill Bramlette, Eastern Sierra Audubon Society and the California Native Plant Society.
With the Boundary Peak looming over us, we began making our way around the alkali ponds located on the north end of the conservation easement. I hardly could write fast enough as Claus and Connie called out bird names, “Ruddy Duck, Northern Pintail, Great Egret, oh there’s an American Coot with two babies. . .” We spotted a coyote scampering off into the sagebrush hills. Meandering around the few springs, Karen showed us the Wong’s Springsnail, a relictual indicator of a stable, ancient spring water flow. Later, hiking through the sagebrush scrub, Connie spotted a Northern Harrier, perched on an old fence post.
Benton Hot Springs Ranch is owned by fourth generation landowner Bill Bramlette. Bill and his ranch hands work the cattle, rotating them into the forb-rich meadow under a plan that balances both grazing and habitat protection. This plan ensures that viable agricultural production remains sustainable over time while protecting local wildlife. Bill and his wife Diane, also own the Inn at Benton Hot Springs, where you can have a relaxing soak in their hot springs.
We invite you to join us on the land, Saturday, May 16th. Meet us at the junction of Hwy 6 and SR 120 at 9am. We’ll lead you on a walk of this unique landscape. Join us.