The Place:

It’s summer, and we know you’re getting outside to play! Here at ESLT, summer is also stewardship season, and we’ve already been out caring for our special places. So this season, we would like to encourage everyone to visit one of ESLT’s remarkable destinations Black Lake Preserve.

Thanks to our incredible volunteer teams and supporters, we’ve been improving land conditions at the Preserve this year. We’ve worked together to clear litter and old barbed wire from the brush, we’ve reinstalled fence tags so that sage grouse and other wildlife can see fences, and we’ve even installed a brand new interpretive sign! The sign was graciously funded by our friends at the National Audubon Society and Eastern Sierra Audubon Society, along with Pete Pumphrey and Roberta Lagomarsini.

The natural beauty at Black Lake Preserve is as striking as ever. The Preserve is open to the public for day use, is located just north of the junction between Benton Crossing Road and Highway 120 East, and is teeming with life at this time of year. Its wetland habitat is an important stopover for migrating birds, earning it a designation by Audubon Society as an “Important Bird Area.” Black Lake Preserve is a fantastic place for spotting rare feathered visitors to our region. Its wetlands are also a critical water source for wildlife including mule deer, pronghorn, sage grouse, and more.

Black Lake Preserve also has a beautiful backstory. It is permanently protected thanks to the foresight of Michelle Browner, who generously donated this important place to ESLT.

The History:

Michelle had developed her love for rugged landscapes during a childhood spent probing through the wild Florida everglades. And like many of us, Michelle had a hard time keeping her eyes on the road when she first drove through the Eastern Sierra. She fell particularly in love with Adobe Valley, along with Black Lake and its alkali wetland meadows.

Michelle visited Black Lake again and again, and every time, its landscape completely absorbed her. She would spend days there exploring ridges of pinyon pine and looking out on oceans of fragrant, blooming sage. She would spend entire nights staring at the brightest stars she had ever seen.

One day, she noticed a “for sale” sign posted not far from Black Lake. Suddenly, she imagined buildings and sprawl scattered in the meadows and by the lake, disrupting the fragile ecosystem that was so critical for migrating birds and deer. So she purchased the land.

In 2014, Michelle approached ESLT to consider options for conserving Black Lake beyond her lifetime. She chose to make an outright donation of this special place to ESLT.

Thanks to Michelle’s vision and generosity, Black Lake Preserve is protected for you and for future generations to visit and enjoy.

Michelle knew that this magical rare wetland in the middle of the arid Adobe Valley would be the perfect place to bring young visitors. She was right you can see Black Lake’s sparkle in kids’ eyes long after their visit. Thanks to our donors and supporters, local students visit the Preserve as a part of “Birds in the Classroom.” They fall in love with the shimmering lake and its meadows while spotting the birds they learn about in school.

While Michelle Browner’s foresight created this Preserve, our visitors and volunteers keep this beautiful place healthy as they learn about and care for its crucial wildlife habitat. Thanks to you, the sage, the birds, the moist alkali meadows‚Ķ they aren’t going anywhere.

See you there this spring! Find driving directions and more information here.

In May, we co-hosted a birding tour of Black Lake Preserve with the Eastern Sierra Audubon Society, in celebration of International Migratory Bird Day. We saw 26 different bird species in total, along with a coyote that swam right across the lake!