In 2006, after years of being good land stewards,
the Sprague Family offered Audubon another
significant piece of their land holdings in Cyrus
Canyon. Audubon purchased then transferred the
land to the Bureau of Land Management to protect
this unique 1660-acre parcel of juniper woodland
and upper Sonoran grassland in perpetuity.
Because of its proximity to the only known
population of Kelso Creek Monkeyflower (Mimulus shevockii) in the Kern River Valley, staff at
Audubon speculated that this diminutive beauty
would be found on Sprague land in this canyon.
Botanical surveys conducted this spring by BLM
contractors not only found thousands of
individuals of this species on the land but also
a hybrid between M. shevockii and its
closest cousin M. androsaceus. This
finding is exciting because it is possible that
the Kelso Creek Monkeyflower may actually have
evolved from Cyrus Canyon and spread southward to
other locations in the Kern and Kelso Valleys.
Audubon is pleased that this highly restricted
species is now protected in this location through
its efforts. "This is fantastic news, the size of
this population exceeds our expectations,"
proclaimed Reed Tollefson, Manager of Audubon's
Kern River Preserve. "We are really pleased to
work with BLM and appreciate the help of our
anonymous donor in protecting this important land
for the monkeyflower and other sensitive species
that occupy this land."
"It is amazing how successful Audubon has been in
protecting so many rare species with strategic
land acquisitions," said Alison Sheehey, Audubon
Kern River Preserve . "Every
time I take a walk on parcels protected by
Audubon, I discover new plants, animals or
archeological treasures that may have been lost
forever without the foresight of land managers
such as Reed Tollefson and our partners."
(recently moved out of Scrophulariaceae)
Annual, 2–12 cm, leaf 3–10 mm, corolla
tube-throat 8–12 mm, upper lip appearing 4-lobed
(lateral pair small), maroon-purple, lower lip
appearing as 1 lobe, notched, yellow with maroon
dots at base
Tree Woodland, Pinyon-Juniper Woodland,
desert washes, sandy granitic or metamorphic
Bloom Period: March to
April (few have been found blooming in February
and May when temperature and rainfall are
Range: Just six to ten
colonies in Kern, Kelso Creek, and Kelso Valleys
in Kern County, California.
Found only in the Kern
River and Kelso Valleys, , Alison
Sheehey discovered two new populations of
this flower this year.