Whitewater Canyon


In 1980, the United States government designated Whitewater Canyon as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), in recognition of its important scientific, biological, geological, and Cultural Resources – with a river running through it!

With kind permission from the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences With special thanks to Keegan Sawyer, Director

Whitewater Canyon is a unique transitional eco-zone where three habitats converge – Mojave, Sonoran and Coastal – specifically the old Indian village [Wanapiapa/Bonnie Bell]. Her rich riparian habitat is home to more endangered, threatened, and sensitive species of flora and fauna than any other site known in Southern California.

Can you identify and name which animal, bird, or plant is protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973?

The proposed programs and activities will be primarily field studies focusing on the biodiversity and geology surrounding the San Andreas Fault and the Whitewater River. The field/scientific studies will also encompass the study of birds, mammals, fish, insects, reptiles, amphibians and vegetation within adjacent areas to the tectonic plates – North American & Pacific

Each field study will be conducted and led by experts within each scientific discipline.

Students will study:

  1. Fault vegetation, groundwater interactions, and above mentioned wildlife.
  2. Fractures and vein fillings in metamorphic rocks on the main fault to determine stresses during their formation.
  3. Minerals in hydrothermally altered rocks.
  4. Fault movement both horizontal and vertical within the transitional zone.
  5. Spectrum of rock types exposed, from sedimentary rocks to metamorphic and hydrothermally altered rocks.
  6. Stream processes and debris flows to determine a record of big storm events.
  7. Detailed mapping of sedimentary deposits on the eastern wall of the canyon to resolve the change in fault movement from horizontal to vertical displacement in White Water Canyon.
  8. Vegetation change on the canyon floor along with groundwater flow disruption and the juxtaposition of completely different rock types along a laterally traceable boundary coincident with the vegetation zone.