Saline Preservation Association

The voice of Saline Valley

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Posts: 42
Coming from some personal experience with Indian involvement I must agree with peneumbra. If the tribe gets involved there will be many more restrictions placed on the springs. Going forward we need to keep the goals for the springs in the present.
Salt Peter

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Posts: 575
Great points all around. I hope to make it to more than one of the public meetings.

FWIW the south park bridge is outside the DVNP border.
Jukebox Mark

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Posts: 54
I too will have more to add to the discussion as the digesting process continues.

For the moment, consider this. Since the flow to the soaking pools is occasionally disrupted by issues at the source pools, it should be an essential part of the public discussion that the fences at the source pools include gates, and that appropriate access to these gates be provided.

Does that mean one key, which stays with the caretaker, or a combination lock with some kind of honor system? Perhaps start out with a combination lock and regression to a key (or keys) should the honor system not prove sufficient.

I too share Silver Bob’s sense of hypocrisy that the fences are a tacit admission by the NPS that they lack sufficient resolution to remove the underlying problem. However, it is likely that the reality is a little muddier. Even with the financial resources of the military, China Lake NAWS has to rely on the BLM to do its horse and burro gathers in the Cosos. Chances are the. NPS is similarly constrained. Heck, DVNP couldn’t deal with the bridge problem in South Park until volunteers working through the BLM stepped up and helped make things happen.

Perhaps what we hold most in awe about nature is its majestic indifference to humanity.

Posts: 14
the NPS is really, really tight on following rules

All federal agencies are.  The reason is because each agency head knows every "Final Rule" will be challenged by some opposing group and final determination won't be resolved until a judge rules on the resulting court case. That's the reason a sitting president's choices of federal judges are so important.

Posts: 61
If the "tribe" had their way, the Valley would be off-limits to anyone besides "tribal" members. That is not (and never will be) acceptable.

Posts: 11
Since it is mentioned in the plan, the Timbisha Shoshone Homeland act might be worth looking at. Here is the link. Because of the act I believe tribal involvement is mandated, BLM or Park Service.


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Posts: 5
I for one have no problem with the tribal involvement at the springs, long overdue for the return of what was used by them long before the 49'rs rambled through or you old-timers were on the scene. 
Don't take life too seriously. You'll never get out alive anyway..........

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Posts: 75
It concerns me greatly as to the secrecy of Timbisha Shoshone Tribe being invited to a secret squirrel meeting that no one else was invited to attend.

Does anyone know of legal descriptions that pertain to public use of lands for 75 years as Silver Bob mentions? Is there a time frame that grandfathers the continued use of said lands?
Red Molly

Posts: 3

Greetings SPA members,

Yesterday, May 4th, the National Park Service (“NPS”) issued their draft Saline Valley Warm Springs Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”).  The decisions based on these the NPS documents will determine the very future the Hot Springs as we know them!

The EIS plan document can be found at the following website:

That is the also the website to make comments. Comments may also be mailed to: Death Valley National Park, P.O. Box 579, Death Valley, CA 92328. A limited number of paper copies are available at park headquarters as well as public libraries in Amargosa, Pahrump, Bishop, Lone Pine, and Ridgecrest. Please do not email your comments, as the Park Service is not set up to process a large number of comments that way.

The park will hold public meetings about the draft plan:

  • Sunday, May 27 from 1:00-2:00pm at the Saline Valley Warm Springs.
  • Tuesday, May 29 from 5:30-7:30pm at the Ridgecrest Historical Society, 230 West Ridgecrest Blvd, Ridgecrest, CA 93555.
  • Wednesday, May 30 from 5:30-7:30pm at the Inyo Council for the Arts, 137 South Main St, Bishop, CA 93514.
  • Thursday May 31 at 5:30-6:30pm online via a webinar. People joining the web presentation should register at for the webinar link and call-in phone number no later than 15 minutes before the presentation begins.

The SPA Board met this morning, May 5th  via Skype to discuss the various inadequacies of the document as published.  There are several material issues in the document that the Board believes need to be addressed in the next 57 days.  At this time, we ask members to do the following:

1.            Read and become familiar with the draft Saline Valley Warm Springs EIS. We know it is lots of verbiage, but important. The full document (382 pages) is titled DEVA_Saline_Valley_DEIS_Optimized and can be downloaded from the bottom of the link on this page

  2.          Reach out to other members of the Saline Valley community and encourage them to get involved in this process and ask them to get on our SPA mailing list. You can be added to the list simply by emailing Feel free to contact others such as local businesses in Lone Pine, Big Pine, Jeep clubs and the like to join.

3.            Please plan to attend at least one of the public meetings to express your opinions in person.

4.            Please notify SPA (at this email address) if you know any attorneys, versed in environmental law who would be willing to donate pro bono time to address our mutual concerns.  We would love you come to as many meetings as you can.  If you are coming to a meeting, email the SPA Board (at this address) so we can find you at the meeting and share any last-minute information.

5.            Please consider donating to SPA in the event that we have to hire attorneys to challenge the EIS document. You can send a tax deductible check made out to the Saline Preservation Association 1259 El Camino Real #500, Menlo Park, CA 94025 or go to and click on the “donate” button.

SPA is preparing a position paper outlining our concerns.  That paper will be released in the next two weeks. It will be emailed to everyone on the SPA mailing list. Please compare our concerns with yours and prepare your comments in your own words for the public meetings and/or your written reply.

SPA Board members have arranged to attend all of the public meetings.  They will be available to listen to your suggestions as well as ideas about how to proceed.

Again, the decision to be made will determine the very future the Hot Springs as we know them.  If we don’t act now there will be no recourse and we could lose access forever.


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Posts: 376
From the Executive Summary, page iv:

"In letters dated April 3, 2012, the National Park Service formally invited the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, the Inyo County Planning Director, the Bureau of Land Management Ridgecrest Field Office, and Inyo National Forest to participate as cooperating agencies in the plan/EIS process."

Am I the only one who wonders why the current user community was excluded from this process?  After all, we've only been on the scene for 75 years or so.  Apparently we have no voice in what happens going forward.


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Posts: 75
Silver Bob has accurately stated a good plan of action for now. I would add it is imperative for as many as possible "people" show up to the scheduled meetings. A large show of users will strengthen our position. Come one come all. Rally as many as you can.

I plan to re-read the lengthy document several times to learn and understand as much as possible before I attend the meetings. I encourage all concerned to do the same. The user community can benefit from a strong showing of support for keeping the springs a unchanged as possible.


Posts: 20
The preferred alternative (5) is what they will go with unless there is a substantial push back from some influential group, like the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe (the Tribe)..."whose homelands encompass the entirety of Death Valley National Park, has a deep affinity for the Saline Valley Warm Springs area due to the existence of long-lived historical and ethnographic connections." I just read it quickly but it sure sounds like the NPS wants to keep it as open to users as they can while still fitting in all their regulatory requirements. Remember the NPS is really, really tight on following rules. And it makes sense to fence out the burros. On the Mojave Preserve (different set of regs but still NPS) they allow camping most anywhere but encourage re-use of previous sites, except in places people want to camp like springs and such. So in a focal area like the Springs they will want to control that, which alt 5 indicates. Remember there will be people from the public, who will never, ever go to the springs, who will want alt 4--that's the one you need to worry about. But again, given all of these I have read over the years (and I have read and been involved with portions of many across multiple fed agencies), and given my experience with permitting through the NPS, this really sounds like they want to accommodate traditional spring users. And remember they have engaged the Inyo County Sups on this...and Inyo Co will be supportive of recreational use. 

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Posts: 376

As mentioned above, 382 pages is a lot to digest in a very short time. I’ll reserve most of my opinions for a week or so until I have had adequate time to read and research everything that has been published.


A couple things however, jump out at me.


In the Executive Summary, on page vi, we find the following:


Feral Burro Management. The park has a “no burro or wild horse” goal and has a three-phase strategy to remove all wild horses and feral burros from the park, as stated in the park’s 2002 General Management Plan. The management guidelines include live capture of feral burros, removal by animal protection groups, and humane removal efforts.”


Meanwhile, every option in the plan mentions some type of fencing to keep burros away from the Springs. Which is it? Are they going to eliminate the burros or just keep them away from the Springs? And if they do build the fence and later eliminate the burros, will they remove the fence? All we hear about in the news is how strapped the NPS is for cash. They’re raising entry fees to most parks to pay for “deferred maintenance”, but this seems to be another example of poor usage of available resources.


Then we come to page vii of the same Executive Summary. During the public comment period on the proposed alternatives for the management of the Springs, the “No Action Alternative” was clearly the favorite. I’ll look it up but if memory serves, it was something like 8-1 in favor of that alternative. Yet the Draft Proposal says:


The no-action alternative could result in noncompliance with federal and state regulations for human health and safety due to the recreational use of water without water quality monitoring and unregulated storage and use of hazardous materials, such as bleach and automotive supplies. Due to this noncompliance, the no-action alternative cannot be selected as the preferred alternative.”


To me, this says, “You people are too stupid to know what you need so we’re going to have to protect you from yourselves.” Seriously, who doesn’t know that soaking in a small pool with total strangers “could” be an avenue for spreading infection? I say “could” because in the 39 years I’ve been visiting the Springs, I’ve never heard of anyone catching anything from the hot tubs. I guess we could post more signs reminding people not to drink the water from the tubs where people soak their asses, but I doubt that anyone who would drink that water can read anyway!


As far as the “hazardous materials” are concerned, if the Park has a problem with the storage of these items, why haven’t they mentioned it to SPA or anyone else? I’m quite sure that SPA could arrange the donation of one or more OSHA approved storage cabinets with containment tubs for the bleach. Why haven’t they ever mentioned this concern before?


Frankly, the biggest problem I’ve seen in this whole document is the following paragraph which is repeated at the end of the discussion of each alternative:


As described in the “Elements Common to All Alternatives” section, the park is completing a plan for cooperative management with the Tribe. When that plan is completed and implemented, actions will be taken at the Saline Valley Warm Springs consistent with that plan.”


Has anyone heard of what the Tribe wants to do in Saline Valley, or anywhere else for that matter? This whole public comment process was intended to promote transparency in the process of developing the management plan for the Springs. Yet the paragraph above seems to indicate that whatever is decided by this process can easily be overruled by the cooperative management plan with the Timbisha Tribe. As best I can tell, there has been NO public comment allowed in regards to that plan, nor has anything been published letting the public know what proposals are even being considered.


As I said, I’ve just started looking at this. I have a lot of research to do on this and I’ll most certainly have more comments as I get further into it. Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to read the entire draft plan and form your own opinions.


I expect a lively discussion with lots of viewpoints. Opposing arguments are expected and welcomed. Posts that sink to name calling or threats are not productive and will be promptly deleted. We’re at the point where we’ll be determining the future of the place we all love. I hope we can work constructively together to come up with a plan that we can live with for the rest of our lives.


Posts: 1
You're better off just to campaign to get Saline Valley out of the park. At some point someone in the government is "going to know better than you" and you wont have a say in the outcome. Public comment is mostly just window dressing these days. The real decisions come from powerful institutions who have an agenda that isn't in conformity with yours.

Posts: 7
“good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws” 
― Plato

“The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”
― Lao Tzu

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