CSUN Conservation Biology students see the highs and lows of the Owens Valley

The Fall 2022 Conservation Biology class at 2835 m (9300 ft) elevation in the White Mountains, with a panorama view of eastern Sierra Nevada in the background. (Photo via Dr. Polly Schiffman)

The students in Dr. Polly Schiffman’s Conservation Biology class spent last weekend visiting some of the most dramatic landscapes within a day’s drive of Los Angeles — the ancient forests of the White Mountains and the Owens Valley.

The three-day trip included stops at California’s ancient bristlecone pine forest in Inyo National Forest, where the class discussed how climate change may impact bristlecone pines, the oldest living organisms on Earth. They also visited the Owens River, Owens Lake, and Los Angeles aqueduct to examine how the transport of water to the City of Los Angeles, 250 miles away, is causing desertification in the Owens Valley. They met with Mr. Noah Williams, the water manager of the Big Pine Paiute Tribe, who discussed how Owens Valley water issues have impacted local residents.