Looking Back: Conservation Success at Benton Hot Springs Ranch

With its wildlife, water resources, ranching legacy, and historic significance, Benton Hot Springs Ranch is a diamond in the rough. Thanks to supporters like you, it’s now protected forever.

Bill Bramlette’s family has worked the land at Benton Hot Springs Ranch for nearly a century. As the property’s third-generation rancher, Bill is committed to making sure that tradition continues.

“The number one thing for me is that, even when I’m gone, this land will forever remain as it is right now – as it was when my family first moved onto it,” Bill told us.

When houses started appearing along the edge of the scenic Benton Hot Springs Valley, he saw the writing on the wall. He knew that sooner or later developers would come calling – and so he decided to take action to make sure his land would remain open.

Thanks to conservation supporters like you, he was able to make this dream a reality.

In 2008, Bill Bramlette partnered with Eastern Sierra Land Trust to permanently conserve 900 acres at Benton Hot Springs Ranch. Because of his foresight, this unique place – with its important water resources, historic ties, ranching legacy, and diverse wildlife – will continue to support our Eastern Sierra community for generations to come.

Please note: this is a private property. Eastern Sierra Land Trust occasionally hosts birdwatching outings, native wildflower walks, and volunteer workdays at the Ranch – great opportunities to visit it in person. Check out our events calendar to see if there’s an event coming up! If you’d like to explore on your own time, we recommend visiting the Ranch as a guest at The Inn at Benton Hot Springs.


Paradise For Migrating Birds and Other Wildlife

With all the natural springs, seeps, ponds, and creeks found on the Benton Hot Springs Ranch, you can spot a diverse array of migrating and resident waterfowl, songbirds, raptors, and more here.

Three of the more notable bird species that can be seen here are shown below. For a list of all 114 birds that have been spotted at Benton Hot Springs Ranch, Click Here >>

In addition to offering important habitat to birds, the Ranch’s ponds and creeks are also home to a number of different aquatic invertebrates, such as Wong’s springsnail.

Upland areas overlooking the wet meadows provide sagebrush scrub habitat that give mule deer, bobcat, mountain lion, and other mammals the seclusion and space they need to thrive.

A couple years back, our wildlife camera caught this image at right of a bobcat posing for us in front of the ponds at Benton Hot Springs.


Rare Plants Abound

This property includes extensive alkali meadows that foster a vibrant plant community – one of the rarest in California. Many rare plants have been seen at Benton Hot Springs Ranch. These include:


Benton Hot Springs: A Geologic Marvel

Aerial image of Benton Ponds, showing the canyon at the north end. © Paul Page

During the ice age, a freshwater lake called Lake Russell filled much of the Mono Basin – it was seven times deeper and five times larger than today’s Mono Lake. When Lake Russell reached its maximum extent, it carved a glacial spillway southward into the Owens River, and eventually down to what is now Death Valley. On its journey southward, this ancient ice flow created a canyon at the north end of Benton Hot Springs Ranch.

As the property’s name suggests, it is home to a significant hot springs – which produces between 700 and 900 gallons of 139° water per minute! This water is very pure, absent of the high levels of minerals that are characteristic of many hot springs.


History Comes Alive

Benton is one of the oldest existing towns in Mono County. Benton Hot Springs Ranch lies between its original location, Old Benton, and today’s town of Benton at the corner of Highways 6 and 120 East. Many historic buildings at the ranch hark back to the silver boom days of the late 1800’s.

One particular foundation on the property is one of the oldest known structures in all of Mono County.

Bill Bramlette now runs an independent non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the historic values of the Benton Hot Springs Ranch and sharing this slice of early Americana with the community. To learn more, Click Here >>


What’s Next: Restoring Important Habitat at Benton Hot Springs Ranch

For several years, Eastern Sierra Land Trust has been teaming up with Bill Bramlette, local volunteers, and partners from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Cal Fire to enhance the important wetland habitat at Benton Hot Springs Ranch.

The goal is to introduce an extremely rare native desert fish, the Owens speckled dace, into the property’s ponds – in addition to replacing aggressive plants that are choking out the ponds with the native three-square bulrush. If all goes according to plan, this project will be completed by 2020.

Volunteers join us at Benton Hot Springs Ranch throughout the year to remove invasive weeds and improve the conditions at the ponds. We’re always looking for extra hands! To sign up to receive email alerts about upcoming workdays, Click Here >>

Thank You To Our Benton Hot Springs Ranch Project Funding Partners:

  • State of California Resources Agency
  • Sierra Nevada-Cascade Conservation Grant Program (Prop. 50)
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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