Saline Preservation Association


P.O. Box 1941
Lancaster, CA 93539-1941

Summer 2023

Greetings Fellow Friends of Saline Valley,

This newsletter is an update of events and happenings in Saline Valley and Saline Valley Warm Springs. Remember, for real-time news, UPDATES ON HURRICAN HILARY’S IMPACT TO DEATH VALLEY, road conditions about the springs, and all SPA meeting minutes, and previous newsletters go to the Saline Preservation Association (SPA) forum at: .

SPA is a non-profit organization providing an informational conduit both between and among governing agencies and a widely dispersed community who visit the Saline Valley and its Warm Springs. SPA’s goal is protection, preservation, and conservation of the valley to include geology, wildlife habitat, archeology, and a traditional human presence that emphasizes responsible individual freedom of choice.

National Park Service (NPS) Report

Submitted by Timbo Hynes

Just a quick update on todays meeting regarding Death Valley National Park and status throughout. Basically, the Park is closed as Hurricane Hillary did incredible damage to every sector of the Park. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so you can see for yourself just a fraction of the damage by clicking on the video link below.

I did inquire about Saline Valley and apparently, Lizard Lee is the only person there and has no way out as surveillance via a NPS airplane has spotted many impassable washouts on both the south and north passes. Lee was offered a helicopter ride out of which he declined, stating that he had at least 3 weeks of provision to sustain him.

(The following information was from an official NPS release and much of the information is now out of date. As of December 2023 the north pass of Saline Valley is officially open via the Inyo County, and the Warm Springs are once again officially open for public use)

Death Valley National Park
Hurricane Hilary – DVP Incident
Situation Update – Monday August 28, 2023

Top updates – as of 8/28/2023 5:00 p.m.                   

  • Death Valley National Park is closed.
  • CA-190: Admin lanes open for residents, employees, contractors, deliveries including mail (for critical needs, not recreational access). Reopening timeline is likely to be weeks. Admin access is allowed from Death Valley Junction to Darwin for required access to all developed areas.

What we’re working on:

Park staff, interns and volunteers make visitor contacts and turn visitors around who try to enter the park at Daylight Pass on Nevada 374.

Roads: Focus is on providing access to utilities. Working to get access from Wildrose to communications equipment on Rogers Peak. Damage here was significant; this will take time. Start working on utility access around Furnace Creek (Nevares Spring, Furance Creek wells, electrical substation).

  • Regional and Federal Highways staff conducting ERFO assessement today through Wednesday.
    • Clearing Dump road today to improve  assessment access..
    • Putting up signs and barricades at Deadman Pass and Harry Wade Road remote park entrances today to reinforce closure.
    • Assessments: in Assesment crews going out today to look at Hole in the Wall, Echo Canyon and Cottonwood/Marble Canyons.
    • Crews will also assess the side roads off Emigrant Canyon including Skidoo,  Augerberry and Telephone.
    • So far assesments have identified 540 miles of damaged roads from Hilary, which is more than double the 206 miles of road damaged in 2022.
  • Numerous incoming staff coming to expand operations and give current personnel critical days off. Equipment rentals also in process.
  • 45 DEVA NPS staff/ 20 NP staff.

Current Status – Facilities


  • Cow Creek Area
    • Boil water notice for Coyote Loop, lower Skyline Drive.
  • Furnace Creek Area
    • Utilities: Non-potable water line has several hundred feet missing. Estimates in progress.
    • Landline telephones are down in NPS offices.
  • Stovepipe Wells
    • Rooms available for incident personnel.
  • NPS landfill: impacts to road and cap.
  • Timbisha: damage reported to adobe buildings and residences. Access road has debris on it.
  • Panamint Springs
    • Utilities: water system failure, with 1,000’ of pipe missing. Running low on water. Retail and restaurant open for road crews to use (contact them for hours/details).
  • Xanterra
    • EDR is open
    • Rooms available for incident personnel.

 Current Status – Roads

  • CA-190: CLOSED, with admin lane for residents, employees, contractors, deliveries. Bring ID to show proof of living in closed area to make it past barricades.  CALTRANS has 1 contract for east side (approved today but work not yet begun) and 1 for west side (work started). Hoping to have an estimate for reopening sections by end of next week.
  • Badwater: no admin lane started.
  • Daylight Pass/Beatty Cutoff/Mud Canyon: admin lane complete, use extreme caution – pavement missing, undercut areas, and missing shoulders.
  • North Highway: admin lane to Castle (4×4).
  • Bonnie Clare: admin lane from NV-267 to Castle (sedan), Castle to Grapevine (4×4).
  • Dantes View: admin lane cut to Ryan Camp (4×4).
  • Emigrant/Wildrose: admin lane to Wildrose, road clearing in progress to Rogers Peak.
  • Big Pine Road: CLOSED
  • South Pass/Saline Valley: CLOSED
  • External Roads
    • CA-190: between CA-136 junction and Olancha. Possible bridge damage at mile 17. Travel west of Darwin is strongly discouraged until the bridge is assessed.
    • SR 136: CLOSED. Caltrans reports LADWP is releasing water, which is expected to impact the highway for the next 10 days (near Dolomite Loop). Still flooded as of 8/28.
    • SR 127: road cleared, except for silt. May be reopening Tuesday 8/29.
    • Trona Wildrose & Panamint Valley Road: open to Ballarat
  • Public information: see video and images from the storm on the park’s website.

The SPA Mermaid

Submitted by Michelle Hamilton, SPA Secretary

Mitch Bornyasz is an avid enthusiast of Saline Valley and Southwestern US desert history.  He emailed the SPA Board the following story:

I am an avid enthusiast of Saline Valley and Southwestern US desert history. I consume large quantities of miscellaneous information including past newsletters and out of print magazines. While reading the archive of SPA and SOAKS newsletters I noticed the “Mermaid” beginning with the initial 1994 newsletter. After seeing this beauty on the letterhead and on the SPA Website it occurred to me that I’ve seen her somewhere before…. I tried to place her source (pun not intended) and best I could gather was some artistic work of a member of the original SPA steering committee or such.  But it has kept bothering me that I know I’ve seen it somewhere else before (the curse of a semi-photographic memory).

Anyhow, I finally tracked the basis for the “SPA mermaid” to an early 1900’s (c. 1907) Novelty Post card published by Tichnor Bros. Publishing in 1907.

According to my research published materials like this that predate 1923 are considered public domain and no longer subject to copyright protections.  I have taken the artistic liberty to “Restore” the artwork to a level that better suits the original illustration and current medium. Please see the attached original mermaid and several copies of the restored SPA mermaid. Please feel free to use this artwork for SPA purposes (if you choose). If I ever get around to printing t-shirts again, I may make some and will send ya’ll a few.

Mitch Bornyasz

The SPA Board thanks Mitch for his research, semi-photographic memory, and a special thanks for the artwork.

Abandoned Truck Update

Submitted by Jorel Alegro (before Hurricane Hilary)

The abandoned truck will be more easily removed once the North Pass road is graded.  Inyo County is busy but should grade the North Pass by the end of September. He’s also working with the BLM Ridgecrest office and the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office who said if they are given a week’s notice of volunteer’s attempt to remove it, they would go out and put an “abandoned vehicle sticker” on the truck.   Jorel further stated that from the last newsletter an individual had reached out to him volunteering to help.  He has a car trailer with a winch and lives close to the north pass.  The SPA Board was happy to hear about this. He further added that Miller towing said the volunteers could deliver the truck and truck parts to them and have offered to dispose of the junk free of charge.

Traveling in Saline or Death Valley in the Summer.

Submitted by Mike Ramsey

Traveling in Saline Valley or Death Valley in summer? It would be wise to be prepared. In hot weather the chance for a breakdown increases. Carry plenty of water! Water for consumption and some for the radiator. Some type of emergency communication is wise. Shade can be invaluable in keeping cool. Even if it is parking the vehicle to cast a shadow for shade. Or a shade structure or umbrella would be wise. Inform someone of your plans. In the event you do breakdown someone will know where to send help. It seems so simple, but good tires and correct tire pressure are critical. Always know the condition of your spare tire, jack, and tire tools. Bugs can be an issue. Repellent would be very helpful. I like to keep a spare fan belt. Most vehicles these days use a serpentine style belt. (One belt operates everything) If it fails you will overheat the motor, not the mention the AC and alternator will not function. Additionally traveling at the coolest time possible is wise.


Next SPA Meeting

The next SPA Board meeting, Oct. 11, 2023, at 8:30 a.m. via Zoom.  If you have an issue, you want the Board to bring up, please email it to


*SPA is an eligible 501( c )( 3 ) Nonprofit.  100% of all donations go towards the maintenance and continuance of Saline Valley.

Membership to SPA is free, just email your name and email information to

If you want to donate to SPA using PayPal or a Credit/Debt Card click on the donate bottom at the bottom of the SPA Website

You can also donate by sending a check or cash to:

Saline Preservation Association
PO Box 1941
Lancaster, CA 93539-1941

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