Tecopa Ecological Reserve


The 84-acre Tecopa Ecological Reserve is located in the Mojave Desert in southeastern Inyo County near Death Valley National Park. The key natural features in the area are the Amargosa River and the Tecopa Marsh the latter of which is fed by warm springs in the area. The reserve was established to protect habitat for the Amargosa vole (Microtus californicus scirpensis) which is both state and federally listed as Endangered. The vole is highly vulnerable to extinction due to its limited range, narrow niche, declining habitat quality, and low population size. The Amargosa vole depends on wetland vegetation dominated by three-square bulrush (Schoenoplectus americanus). The reserve also protects habitat for the Amargosa niterwort (Nitrophila mohavensis), a state and federally endangered plant that occurs only on highly alkaline, moist, salt-encrusted clay soils. As a result of the desert wetlands in this arid location the marsh, tributary springs, and spring channels are of high ecological value to numerous other plant and wildlife species.

For more information, call the Inland Deserts Region's Bishop office at (760) 872-1171.

Recreational Opportunities

Wildlife Viewing hiking waterfowl hunting shotgun hunting

Activities: wildlife viewing, hunting. There are no developed roads, trails or facilities at this location.

Hunting: Waterfowl

NOTE: Visitors are responsible for knowing and complying with all regulations pertaining to the use of Department lands.

Refer to the Public Uses on State and Federal Lands section of the Waterfowl, Upland Game, and Public Use Regulations (PDF) booklet for both statewide and property-specific regulations.

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You may not operate a drone on CDFW Lands without a Special Use Permit.

Area History

The community of Tecopa was located along the Old Spanish Trail, a historic trade route, but was relocated in the early 1900s to the present site as a railroad watering stop along the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad line. The town supported the nearby Resting Springs mining district and later became a popular destination for health seekers due to the dry climate and warm mineral springs. The name Tecopa was taken from a local Southern Paiute man known to early settlers in the area.

The Recovery Plan for Amargosa vole notes that the construction of the railway line across the Tecopa Lake Basin significantly altered hydrology of the area both fragmenting and reducing available wetland habitat. These impacts were likely exacerbated by the construction of roads and highways. It has been estimated that no more than one square kilometer (247 acres) of patchy habitat for the voles remains.

The Department acquired the properties in 2014, and it was designated as an ecological reserve by the Fish and Game Commission in 2020. The primary purposes for the acquisition of the properties is to protect and manage habitat for Amargosa vole and Amargosa niterwort.

Map of Tecopa ER - click to enlarge in new window
Click to enlarge


Inland Deserts Region (Region 6)

Inyo County

Directions: State Route 127. Access to the property is provided from Tecopa Hot Springs Road. The outlying parcels are accessible from unpaved county-maintained roads. 

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