In A Preserved Landscape, A Unique Opportunity

The low population density of the Owens Valley presents a unique opportunity for assisting in the dispersal of wildlife populations between areas of protected or suitable habitat. Long distance dispersal, for example, is important in cougar populations, allowing them to expand their distribution range, increase gene flow between populations, and open up the possibility of re-colonizing previously unoccupied areas. Human population density is the biggest barrier to cougar migration. Had the Owens Valley retained its water resources and developed a larger agricultural and urban footprint, passage could have been much more difficult. On the other hand, without the Aqueduct, increased riparian habitat in the Valley could have assisted in the passage of these animals between mountain ranges, since they tend to move along this landcover type.

Land_Use_Map

Map data sources: USGS, Inyo County

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