A truly unique natural habitat, Baldwin Lake is a large, ephemeral lake in the northeastern San Bernardino Mountains that forms on alkali soils that were uplifted several thousand feet from the floor of the Mojave Desert. It is surrounded Great Basin Sage Scrub, probably the most extensive example of this habitat in southern California. The lakeshore can be marshy or dusty depending on the rainfall the previous winter. Extensive pinyon-juniper woodland surrounds the eastern side of the lake, while the southern side features yellow pine woodland contiguous with that of the central San Bernardinos, the most extensive block of such forest in southern California. Unfortunately, increased water diversions for subdivisions in the Bear Basin have resulted in Baldwin Lake being dry for most of the late 1990's.

Ornithological Summary

Baldwin Lake has supported an exceptionally large breeding population of Eared Grebe (>1000 birds), breeding ducks (up to 4 species) as well as flocks of thousands of shorebirds and waterfowl during migration, especially in fall. As in northeastern California, the shrub-steppe bird community mingles with that of the forest, resulting in a very high diversity of certain groups of birds (up to 15 species of sparrows, including Vesper and Brewer's, breed in the IBA). The vast grassland surrounding the lake is an important raptor foraging area and traditional wintering area for Bald Eagles up to thirty have wintered.

Help us learn more about the birds at this IBA! Enter your birding data online at Calfornia eBird! (http://ebird.org/california/)

Conservation Issues

Like Mono Lake prior to the lawsuit that saw its feeder stream flow restored, Baldwin Lake is dying of thirst. With the increasing number of diversions, rainfall alone is insufficient to keep open water on the lakebed throughout the spring and summer, much less through fall when waterbird migration peaks. Unless water policy in the area is modified to ensure water collects on the lakebed, Baldwin Lake, like Owens Lake, may cease to exist.

Ownership

California Department of Fish and Game manages the Baldwin Lake Ecological Reserve.

Habitat

A truly unique natural habitat, Baldwin Lake is a large, ephemeral lake in the northeastern San Bernardino Mountains that forms on alkali soils that were uplifted several thousand feet from the floor of the Mojave Desert. It is surrounded Great Basin Sage Scrub, probably the most extensive example of this habitat in southern California. The lakeshore can be marshy or dusty depending on the rainfall the previous winter. Extensive pinyon-juniper woodland surrounds the eastern side of the lake, while the southern side features yellow pine woodland.

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