Onyx Ranch

Kern County, California
California Department of Parks and Recreation


Environmental Services

Geocon Leaders

Jim Brake

Geocon performed a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) of 28,000 acres (the Site) of the former 68,000-acre Onyx Ranch in Kern County for the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s (DPR). The Phase I ESA was performed as part of DPR’s due diligence efforts prior to the planned acquisition of the Site to create a new State Vehicular Recreation Area. The Site consisted of 60 parcels ranging from 40 to 640 acres interspersed with Bureau of Land Management- and privately held land straddling the crest of the southern Sierra. The Site was predominantly remote, undeveloped land with highly diverse topographic, geologic, and ecologic settings ranging from east side high desert to alpine forest along the crest to oak woodland ranch land on the western side. Along with the diversity of land types was a diversity in land use and improvements including two Los Angeles Aqueduct Pipelines, overhead electrical transmission lines, numerous abandoned mine prospects, paved and unimproved roads, old windmills and stock corrals, and livestock grazing/ranch land. The Geocon team accomplished the site reconnaissance over two days driving throughout the Site and on foot to observe and document features of potential concern. A primary challenge of this project was the compilation and presentation of voluminous data for 60 parcels spread over a large area. This challenge was addressed by organizing our descriptions, photos, and site plans and presenting them in a concise tabular and graphical format for DPR’s review. Although numerous features of concern were observed, we observed no evidence of recognized environmental conditions on the Site or adjacent lands that would require further assessment and/or corrective action and that might impede the acquisition.

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