This IBA encompasses 162,000 acres along the San Andreas Fault between the Central Valley and the coast, and includes two large valleys (Carrizo Plain and Elkhorn Plain), a massive seasonal alkali lake (Soda Lake), and low, rolling hills of grass and arid scrub. Jointly managed by the BLM and a host of other public agencies and non-profits, it represents one of the most significant swaths of protected lands in the state. Taken together with Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge just to the southeast, the Wildlands Conservancy's recently-designated Wind Wolves Preserve (see San Emigdio Mountains IBA), and the Sespe Wilderness Area, this is one of the few areas in the state that is large and protected enough where, as it is often said, condors can soar down from the hills to feed on the carcasses of Pronghorn and Tule Elk. The plain is within 20 miles of current Condor recovery areas. This IBA contains the largest remaining example of the San Joaquin Valley ecosystem that within the valley itself were eliminated over a century ago.
Periodically flocks of Lesser Sandhill Cranes roost on Soda Lake in wet winters, but the number has declined as dry land fields are converting back to a more natural landscape. Breeding Northern Harrier, Golden Eagle, Prairie Falcon, Burrowing Owl, the canescens race of Sage Sparrow all of which have become localized or have all but disappeared from the San Joaquin Valley thrive at Carrizo. Swainson's Hawk was known as a breeder from the San Juan Creek drainage just west of Carrizo (Walton 1978), and could return to the area. On exceptional rainfall years, Soda Lake is occassionally used by thousands of waterfowl and, during spring, for northbound shorebirds, but their numbers are imperfectly known due to difficulty of accessing the habitat at this time. Wintering Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, Rough-legged Hawks, and resident Short-eared and Long-eared owls occur in one of their last strongholds toward southern California, and in winter, flocks of several hundred to several thousand Long-billed Curlew may be found in the grassland on the valley floor. Mountain Plover winter in flocks totally about 200-300 birds. Burrowing Owls breed on the plain in large numbers. Aside from birds, Carrizo Plain is notable for protecting numerous rare species, including several San Joaquin Valley endemic plants virtually eliminated elsewhere.
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BLM is currently updating a Resource Management Plan for the Monument, with partners TNC and CA DFG.
Jointly managed by the BLM and a host of other public agencies and non-profits, it represents one of the most significant swaths of protected lands in the state.
This IBA encompasses 180,000 acres along the San Andreas Fault between the Central Valley and the coast, and includes two large valleys (Carrizo Plain and Elkhorn Plain), a massive seasonal alkali lake (Soda Lake), and low, rolling hills of grass and arid scrub.