"""The 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch, between Los Angeles and Bakersfield in California’s Tehachapi Mountains, features extraordinary ecological resources: ancient oak groves, Joshua tree and pinyon pine forests, and 80 imperiled species, including the California condor.
Its owners and some environmentalists have cut a deal to put 90 percent of the ranchland into a private conservancy in exchange for allowing intense development on the remaining 10 percent. But here’s what hasn’t been seriously considered: Protecting this precious area as a national park for the benefit of creatures and people in one of the nation’s most densely populated regions.
National parks have been deemed “America’s best idea,” in writer Wallace Stegner’s phrasing, and they are celebrated as that in a Ken Burns documentary series airing this week on PBS. Yet, oddly, America’s national park system is largely perceived as a fait accompli, like the great Gothic cathedrals in Europe. But national parks should be as much a part of our future as they are of our past."""
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Ken Burns' documentary on the National Park system provided some restful info-tainment, and should remind us of all the sound reasons for federally-protected wilderness. Unfortunately, one of the largest areas of wilderness in California, the Tejon Ranch, does not have National Park status. Tejon Ranch encompasses most of the Tehachapi Mountains and borders on the San Joaquin valley to the north, and stretches to the mojave desert to the south and east; to the west lies Mt. Pinos and the coast range--chumash territory.
The Tejon Ranch consists mainly of California chapparal: oaks, digger pines, and grass-covered hills, blanketed by wildflowers in the spring. Above five or six thousand feet one encounters ponderosa, sugar pines and firs, a few small lakes, and year-round streams (the pinyon pine mentioned by Miss Atlanta are a Great Basin pine found above 5000 ft. or so--like in the Inyo Mountains (INYO, the Paiute Geist). A few pinyon may grow on the eastern side of Tejan Ranch towards mojave, but rare). Red tail hawks, golden eagles and, rarely, condors are seen. Whitetail deer, a few black bears, coyotes, the occasional lynx and cougar may be sighted. Some rumors persist that a few wolves still haunt the Tehachapis--unlikely. The last grizzlies of California were gone, hunted to extinction, by 1900 or so. "Tejon" means badger in spanish. Legend holds that early jesuits witnessed a badger fighting a grizzly and designated the pass "del Tejon." Ft. Tejon in fact pre-dates the Civil War; a young Ulysses S Grant spent some time in the area.
The Kawaiisu were the main tribe centered around the Tehachapis--the southern-most end of the Sierra Nevada--though various tribes traded in the area, such as the Yokuts from the great valley, and paiutes from the owens valley area, and the desert wasteland southeast of the sierras. The US Army in fact came out to California to protect
Tejon Ranch owners and managers rate among the most conservative land barons in California, if not the USA. They are pals with the Big Oil boys in Kern and regularly hang out with Kali-Klown-Kommando Ahhnuld Schwarzi as well. Dick Cheney swings by the Tejon Ranch once in a while, after paying respects to his cronies in the petroleum biz residing in the country clubs of west Bakersfield. Ed Jaggels, infamous, crypto-nazi Kern DA and the Kern redneck sheriffs party at Tejon Ranch. When in need of some R & R, LA's
Yes, Tejon Ranch management may have expressed some interest in environmental issues, but that's mostly just for image and political gain; they want to keep the Tejon Ranch in private hands as a secluded hunting range for