Racetrack Playa
Desert saltbush (Atriplex L. [USDA, 2010h]) grows around a pit on the Racetrack Playa (shown here flooded). This pit provides one of the few water sources for wildlife in the valley. Debate remains about the origin of the pit. It may have been a natural seep or desiccation fissure on the playa or a hole dug for stock by early miners. Both are likely true. In during the winter and in the late summer the pit is often full of water. Other pits surrounded by saltbush are nearby. Burrow and other animal bones are common around these pits, making them reminiscent of desert oasis that go dry in Africa or elsewhere where seasonal water become scarce, and animals gather and die when the water supply dries up. The closest other perennial springs are probably on Hunter Mountain or in Saline Valley, many miles away.
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Last modified: 11/30/2010