Avawatz Salt & Gypsum

Avawatz Salt & Gypsum


There are many creative ways to secure important inholdings, but buying a mining company in Death Valley is one for the books. That’s what the Wilderness Land Trust did in 2010 when it purchased, not only a choice inholding, but the mining company that owned it.



The Avawatz Salt and Gypsum Company (Avawatz is the name of a local Indian tribe) owned 2,450 acres of land in the Death Valley Wilderness Study Area. This private parcel was inhibiting its designation as wilderness, which is why it was left out of the California 1994 Desert Protection Act.

For tax reasons, the mine owners elected to sell the company rather than only the land. WLT bought the company and merged it with a for profit subsidiary created by the Trust, forming the Avawatz Acquisition Corporation (ACC). ACC then issued 500 shares of stock, wholly owned by WLT, which disbanded the corporation and deeded the land to the BLM in 2011.


Avawatz Mountains Wilderness is now part of the California Desert Protection Act of 2011, which encompasses 86,614 acres of rugged mountains and lush desert oases around numerous springs that provide water to bighorn sheep, coyotes, bobcats, and roadrunners.





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