This IBA refers to the low, rolling hills at the eastern edge of the Temblor Range in the southwestern San Joaquin Valley. It extends along the far western border of Kern Co. from Maricopa and Taft northwest to just north of McKittrick (vic. Lokern Rd.). Buena Vista Creek (usually dry) drains the eastern flank of the IBA just north of Taft. According to an assessment by The Nature Conservancy (1998), this site ranked highest of all arid upland sites in the San Joaquin Valley (essentially the last large example of this community left), owing to its strong populations of sensitive species, especially endemic plants. The dominant habitat is an alkali scrub of saltbushes (Atriplex spp.), dense and lush in some areas forming Interior Coast Range Scrub (see Holland 1986). This mixes with alkali grassland, much of which has been converted to exotic annual grasses. Public lands dominate here, with BLM holdings and Dept. of Energy oil fields accounting for most of the acreage. The Lokern Preserve, operated by the non-profit Center for Natural Lands Management, serves as a land bank for mitigation of impacts to endangered species habitat in the region.

Ornithological Summary

This IBA draws attention to the last large population of San Joaquin Le Conte's Thrasher Toxostoma lecontei macmillanorum. This taxon occurs within a distinct, intact natural community of birds that includes breeding Prairie Falcon, Greater Roadrunner, the canescens race of Sage Sparrow, plus wintering Sage Thrasher, Mountain Bluebird, and both Vesper and Brewer's sparrows.

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Conservation Issues

Much of the habitat of this IBA is located on active oil fields or on lands awaiting gas and oil exploration. While this has had considerable impact to the habitat, it has probably also contributed somewhat to its conservation by isolating it from human disturbance (e.g. OHV use). Unfortunately, fire (generally arson) remains the greatest threat to the alkali scrub here, as it can quickly convert vital alkali scrub to exotic grassland in seconds.

Ownership

Public lands dominate here, with BLM holdings and Dept. of Energy oil fields accounting for most of the acreage. The Lokern Preserve, operated by the non-profit Center for Natural Lands Management, serves as a land bank for mitigation of impacts to endangered species habitat in the region.

Habitat

Buena Vista Creek (usually dry) drains the eastern flank of the IBA just north of Taft. According to an assessment by The Nature Conservancy (1998), this site ranked highest of all ?arid upland sites? in the San Joaquin Valley (essentially the last large example of this community left), owing to its strong populations of sensitive species, especially endemic plants. The dominant habitat is an alkali scrub of saltbushes (Atriplex spp.), dense and lush in some areas forming Interior Coast Range Scrub (see Holland 1986). This mixes with alkali grassland, much of which has been converted to exotic annual grasses.

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