Scientific Studies

The NALC supports scientific studies on the Old Woman Mountains Preserve and in the Old Woman Mountains. As part of a US Fish and Wildlife Service grant, the NALC conducted a complete flora and fauna inventory of the Old Woman Mountains Preserve.


The Old Woman Mountains is a unique area in California’s Mojave Desert that contains plants and animals from three major desert systems the Sonoran Desert (and Colorado Desert), the Great Basin, and the Mohave Desert. The Old Woman Mountains are a fault-lifted range, with the highest point reaching about 5,300 feet in elevation. Many of the mountains are about 3000 feet. The OWMP has the Ward Valley and Turtle Mountains to the east, and the Iron Mountains to the South. To the Northeast are the Clipper Mountains, and the North, the Piutes.



The OWMP contains several different habitat types, including Mojave Yucca, Creosote Scrub, Desert Wash, Boulder/Spring/Wash, and Pinyon-Juniper insular island habitat. These diverse habitats support a number of plant and animal species.



The Preserve contains 35% of the plant families found in California. Plant species found include California juniper, desert willow, Mojave sage, several species of buckwheat, Mohave yucca, and rush. Many of these species continue to be used by Native Americans today.



Many animals also live in this desert habitat. Herptiles found include the red-spotted toad, chuckwalla, and northern Mohave rattlesnake (Mohave green). The desert tortoise has been known to live near the Preserve. Mammals include Nelson’s bighorn sheep, kit foxes, bobcats, and kangaroo rats. Several species of bats have also been noted on the Preserve, as have many bird species, including the rare and elusive Elf Owl. Three-quarters of the bird species in the Preserve migrate seasonally through the area, since the Preserve is part of the Pacific Flyway.


Featured Flora and Fauna

Common Name: Mormon Tea, California Tea
Cahuilla Name: tu- tuut
Chemehuevi Name: utuup
Scientific Name: Ephedra nevadensis, E. viridis, E. californica

The green or dry twigs of this plant were brewed into tea, and used to treat kidney ailments and stomach disorders. This same concoction was used as a blood purifier. The stems of the plant were chewed in order to relieve thirst, and the seeds could also be used to make a bread or mush. It could also be used as a brown dye for use in baskets and rugs.

Common Name: Coyote
Cahuilla Name: isily
Chemehuevi Name: sinav
Scientific Name: Canis latrans mearnsi

Coyote are widespread throughout the OWMP, though they are often hard to track as they move in the night. Both Cahuilla and Chemehuevi stories tell of Coyote the trickster.