Mojave National Preserve
Mojave National Preserve is a United States National Preserve located in the Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County, California, USA, between Interstate 15 and Interstate 40. The preserve was established October 31,1994 with the passage of the California Desert Protection Act by the US Congress, previously, it was the East Mojave National Scenic Area, under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. At 1,600,000 acres, it is the third largest unit of the National Park System in the contiguous United States. Natural features include the Kelso Dunes, the Marl Mountains and the Cima Dome, as well as volcanic formations such as Hole-in-the-Wall, the preserve encloses Providence Mountains State Recreation Area and Mitchell Caverns Natural Preserve, which are both managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Impressive Joshua Tree forests cover parts of the preserve, the Cima Dome and Shadow Valley forests are the largest in the world. The defunct railroad depot and ghost town of Kelso are found there, the depot is now the visitor center.
The preserve is commonly traversed by 4 wheel drive vehicles traveling on the historic Mojave Road, summer temperatures average 90 °F, with highs exceeding 105 °F. Elevations in the Preserve range from 7,929 feet at Clark Mountain to 880 feet near Baker. Annual precipitation varies from 3.37 inches near Baker, to almost 9 inches in the mountains, at least 25% of precipitation comes from summer thunderstorms. Snow is often found in the mountains during the winter, the California Desert Protection Act of 1994 designated a wilderness area within Mojave National Preserve of approximately 695,200 acres. The National Park Service manages the wilderness in accordance with the Wilderness Act, the CDPA, the following climate data is for a higher elevation area in the preserve. See Climate of the Mojave Desert, Mojave Memorial Cross Official website Photo tour of Mojave National Preserve - from USGS
Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is 2,659 mi long and ranges in elevation from just above sea level at the Oregon–Washington border to 13,153 feet at Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada. The route passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks and its midpoint is near Chester, where the Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges meet. It was designated a National Scenic Trail in 1968, although it was not officially completed until 1993, the PCT was conceived by Clinton Churchill Clarke in 1932. It received official status under the National Trails System Act of 1968 and it is the westernmost and second longest component of the Triple Crown of Hiking and is part of the 6, 875-mile Great Western Loop. The route is mostly through National Forest and protected wilderness, the trail avoids civilization and covers scenic and pristine mountainous terrain with few roads. A parallel route for bicycles, the Pacific Crest Bicycle Trail is a 2, the PCT and PCBT cross in about 27 places along their routes. The Pacific Crest Trail was first proposed by Clinton C, Clarke, as a trail running from Mexico to Canada along the crest of the mountains in California and Washington.
The original proposal was to link the John Muir Trail, the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail, the Skyline Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail System Conference was formed by Clarke to both plan the trail and to lobby the federal government to protect the trail. The conference was founded by Clarke, the Boy Scouts, the YMCA, from 1935 through 1938, YMCA groups explored the 2000 miles of potential trail and planned a route, which has been closely followed by the modern PCT route. In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson defined the PCT, the PCT was constructed through cooperation between the federal government and volunteers organized by the Pacific Crest Trail Association. In 1993, the PCT was officially declared finished, thru hiking is a term used in referring to hikers who complete long-distance trails from end to end in a single trip. The Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and Continental Divide Trail were the first three long-distance trails in the U. S, successfully thru-hiking all of these three trails is known as the Triple Crown of Hiking.
Thru-hiking is a commitment, usually taking between four and six months, that requires thorough preparation and dedication. The Pacific Crest Trail Association estimates that it takes most hikers between six and eight months to plan their trip, while most hikers travel from the Southern Terminus at the Mexico–US border northward to Manning Park, British Columbia, some hikers prefer a southbound route. In a normal year, northbound hikes are most practical due to snow. If snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is high in early June and low in the Northern Cascades, however, it is not currently possible to legally enter the United States from Canada by using the Pacific Crest Trail. Hikers have to determine their resupply points, resupply points are towns or post offices where hikers replenish food and other supplies such as cooking fuel. Hikers can ship packages to themselves at the U. S, post Offices along the trail, resupply at general and grocery stores along the trail, or any combination of the two
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant, or other type of organism. The term typically refers to the zone in which the organism lives and it is the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds a species population. Every organism has certain habitat needs for the conditions in which it will thrive, habitat types include polar, temperate and tropical. The terrestrial vegetation type may be forest, grassland, the word habitat has been in use since about 1755 and derives from the Latin third-person singular present indicative of habitāre, to inhabit, from habēre, to have or to hold. Habitat can be defined as the environment of an organism. It is similar in meaning to a biotope, an area of environmental conditions associated with a particular community of plants. Generally speaking, animal communities are reliant on specific types of plant communities, some plants and animals are generalists, and their habitat requirements are met in a wide range of locations.
The small white butterfly for example is found on all the continents of the world apart from Antarctica and its larvae feed on a wide range of Brassicas and various other plant species, and it thrives in any open location with diverse plant associations. Disturbance is important in the creation of biodiverse habitats, in the absence of disturbance, a climax vegetation cover develops that prevents the establishment of other species. Lightning strikes and toppled trees in tropical forests allow species richness to be maintained as pioneering species move in to fill the gaps created. Similarly coastal habitats can become dominated by kelp until the seabed is disturbed by a storm, another cause of disturbance is when an area may be overwhelmed by an invasive introduced species which is not kept under control by natural enemies in its new habitat. Terrestrial habitat types include forests, grasslands and deserts, within these broad biomes are more specific habitats with varying climate types, temperature regimes, soils and vegetation types.
Many of these habitats grade into each other and each one has its own communities of plants. A habitat may suit a particular species well, but its presence or absence at any particular location depends to some extent on chance, on its dispersal abilities, freshwater habitats include rivers, lakes, ponds and bogs. Although some organisms are found across most of these habitats, the majority have more specific requirements, aquatic plants can be floating, semi-submerged, submerged or grow in permanently or temporarily saturated soils besides bodies of water. Marine habitats include brackish water, bays, the sea, the intertidal zone. Further variations include rock pools, sand banks, brackish lagoons and pebbly beaches, the benthic zone or seabed provides a home for both static organisms, anchored to the substrate, and for a large range of organisms crawling on or burrowing into the surface. A desert is not the kind of habitat that favours the presence of amphibians, with their requirement for water to keep their skins moist, some frogs live in deserts, creating moist habitats underground and hibernating while conditions are adverse
San Bernardino Mountains
The San Bernardino Mountains are a high and rugged mountain range in Southern California in the United States. Situated north and northeast of San Bernardino and spanning two California counties, the range out at 11,489 feet at San Gorgonio Mountain – the tallest peak in all of Southern California. The San Bernardinos form a significant region of wilderness and are popular for hiking and skiing, the mountains were formed about eleven million years ago by tectonic activity along the San Andreas Fault, and are still actively rising. Many local rivers originate in the range, which receives more precipitation than the surrounding desert. The ranges unique and varying environment allows it to some of the greatest biodiversity in the state. For over 10,000 years, the San Bernardinos and their surrounds have been inhabited by indigenous peoples, Spanish explorers first encountered the San Bernardinos in the late 18th century, naming the eponymous San Bernardino Valley at its base. European settlement of the region progressed slowly until 1860, when the became the focus of the largest gold rush ever to occur in Southern California.
Recreational development of the began in the early 20th century. Since then, the mountains have been engineered for transportation. Four major state highways and the California Aqueduct traverse the mountains today, the Morongo Valley in the southeast divides the range from the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Encompassing roughly 2,100 square miles, the mountains lie mostly in San Bernardino County, the range divides three major physiographic regions, the highly urbanized Inland Empire to the southwest, the Coachella Valley in the southeast, and the Mojave Desert to the north. Most of the lies within the boundaries of the San Bernardino National Forest. From its northwestern end, the crest of the mountains rises steadily until they are interrupted by the gorge of Bear Creek, many cities lie at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains. These include San Bernardino and Yucaipa in the south, Yucca Valley to the east, in addition, there are several mid-sized to large towns in the mountains themselves, including Big Bear Lake, Big Bear City, Lake Arrowhead and Running Springs.
Cities within the San Bernardino Mountains total a population of about 44,000, several regional streams and rivers have their headwaters in the mountains. The principal drainage is provided by the Santa Ana River, which runs westwards into the Pacific Ocean in Orange County, the San Bernardino Mountains are a humid island in the mostly semi-arid southern California coastal plain. Parts of the San Bernardino Mountains have annual totals in excess of 40 inches. Most of the falls between November and March, summers are mostly dry except for infrequent thunderstorms during late summer
Bureau of Land Management
President Harry S. Truman created the BLM in 1946 by combining two existing agencies, the General Land Office and the Grazing Service. Most BLM public lands are located in these 12 western states, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The mission of the BLM is to sustain the health, originally BLM holdings were described as land nobody wanted because homesteaders had passed them by. All the same, ranchers hold nearly 18,000 permits, the agency manages 221 wilderness areas,23 national monuments and some 636 other protected areas as part of the National Landscape Conservation System totaling about 30 million acres. There are more than 63,000 oil and gas wells on BLM public lands, total energy leases generated approximately $5.4 billion in 2013, an amount divided among the Treasury, the states, and Native American groups. The BLMs roots go back to the Land Ordinance of 1785 and these laws provided for the survey and settlement of the lands that the original 13 colonies ceded to the federal government after the American Revolution.
As additional lands were acquired by the United States from Spain and other countries, the United States Congress directed that they be explored, during the Revolutionary War, military bounty land was promised to soldiers who fought for the colonies. After the war, the Treaty of Paris of 1783, signed by the United States, France, in the 1780s, other states relinquished their own claims to land in modern-day Ohio. By this time, the United States needed revenue to function, Land was sold so that the government would have money to survive. In order to sell the land, surveys needed to be conducted, the Land Ordinance of 1785 instructed a geographer to oversee this work as undertaken by a group of surveyors. The first years of surveying were completed by trial and error, once the territory of Ohio had been surveyed, in 1812, Congress established the General Land Office as part of the Department of the Treasury to oversee the disposition of these federal lands. By the early 1800s, promised bounty land claims were finally fulfilled, over the years, other bounty land and homestead laws were enacted to dispose of federal land.
Several different types of patents existed and these include cash entry, homestead, military warrants, mineral certificates, private land claims, state selections, town sites, and town lots. A system of land offices spread throughout the territories, patenting land that was surveyed via the corresponding Office of the Surveyor General of a particular territory. This pattern gradually spread across the entire United States, the laws that spurred this system with the exception of the General Mining Law of 1872 and the Desert Land Act of 1877 have since been repealed or superseded. The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 allowed leasing and production of selected commodities, such as coal, gas, the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 established the United States Grazing Service to manage the public rangelands by establishment of advisory boards that set grazing fees. The Oregon and California Revested Lands Sustained Yield Management Act of 1937, commonly referred as the O&C Act, in 1946, the Grazing Service was merged with the General Land Office to form the Bureau of Land Management within the Department of the Interior.
It took several years for new agency to integrate and reorganize
California chaparral and woodlands
The California chaparral and woodlands is a terrestrial ecoregion of lower northern and southern California and northwestern Baja California, located on the west coast of North America. It is an ecoregion of the Mediterranean forests and scrub Biome, the California chaparral and woodlands ecoregion is subdivided into three smaller ecoregions. California coastal sage and chaparral ecoregion, In southern coastal California and northwestern coastal Baja California, as well as all the Channel Islands of California and Guadalupe Island. California interior chaparral and woodlands, In central interior California surrounding the California Central Valley cover the foothills, the ecoregion includes a great variety of plant communities, including grasslands, oak savannas and woodlands and coniferous forests, including southern stands of the tall coast redwood. Species include the California gnatcatcher, Costas hummingbird, coast horned lizard, other animals found here are the Heermann kangaroo rat, Santa Cruz kangaroo rat, and the endangered white-eared pocket mouse.
Another notable insect resident of this ecoregion is the rain beetle It spends up to years living underground in a larval stage. Chaparral, like most Mediterranean shrublands, is highly resilient and historically burned with high-severity. Historically, Native Americans burned chaparral to promote grasslands for textiles, though adapted to infrequent fires, chaparral plant communities can be exterminated by frequent fires especially with climate change induced drought. Today, frequent accidental ignitions can convert chaparral from a native shrubland to nonnative annual grassland and drastically reduce species diversity, some unique plant communities, like southern Californias Coastal Sage Scrub, have been nearly eradicated by agriculture and urbanization. As a result, the now has many rare and endangered species
Alpine plants are plants that grow in an alpine climate, which occurs at high elevation and above the tree line. Alpine plants grow together as a plant community in alpine tundra, alpine plants are not a single taxon. Rather, many different plant species live in the alpine environment and these include perennial grasses, forbs, cushion plants and lichens. Alpine plants must adapt to the conditions of the alpine environment, which include low temperatures, ultraviolet radiation. Some alpine plants serve as medicinal plants, alpine plants occur in a tundra, a type of natural region or biome that does not contain trees. Alpine tundra occurs in mountains worldwide and it transitions to subalpine forests below the tree line, stunted forests occurring at the forest-tundra ecotone are known as Krummholz. With increasing elevation it ends at the line where snow. Alpine plants are not limited to higher latitudes and these areas have different ecology than those located at higher latitudes. One of the biggest distinctions is that the bound of a tropical alpine area is difficult to define due to a mixture of human disturbances, dry climates.
The other major difference between tropical and arctic alpine ecology is the temperature differences, the tropics have a summer/winter cycle every day, where as the higher latitudes stay cold both day and night. In the northern latitudes, the factor to overcome is the cold. Intense frost action processes have an effect on what little soil there is. Tropical alpine regions are subject to conditions as well. Because northern alpine areas cover an area it can be difficult to generalize the characteristics that define the ecology. One factor in alpine ecology is wind in an area, wind pruning is a common sight within northern alpine regions. Along with wind pruning, wind erosion of vegetation mats is a common sight throughout Alaska, alpine plants can exist at very high altitudes. For example, there is a moss that grows at 6,480 m on Mount Everest, arenaria bryophylla is the highest flowering plant in the world, occurring as high as 6,180 m. In order to survive, alpine plants are adapted to the conditions at altitudes, including cold, high levels of ultraviolet radiation
National Park Service
It was created on August 25,1916, by Congress through the National Park Service Organic Act and is an agency of the United States Department of the Interior. As of 2014, the NPS employs 21,651 employees who oversee 417 units, the National Park Service celebrated its centennial in 2016. National parks and national monuments in the United States were originally individually managed under the auspices of the Department of the Interior, the movement for an independent agency to oversee these federal lands was spearheaded by business magnate and conservationist Stephen Mather, as well as J. Horace McFarland. With the help of journalist Robert Sterling Yard, Mather ran a publicity campaign for the Department of the Interior and they wrote numerous articles that praised the scenic and historic qualities of the parks and their possibilities for educational and recreational benefits. This campaign resulted in the creation of a National Park Service, Mather became the first director of the newly formed NPS.
On March 3,1933, President Herbert Hoover signed the Reorganization Act of 1933, the act would allow the President to reorganize the executive branch of the United States government. It wasnt until that summer when the new President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Roosevelt agreed and issued two Executive orders to make it happen. In 1951, Conrad Wirth became director of the National Park Service, the demand for parks after the end of the World War II had left the parks overburdened with demands that could not be met. In 1952, with the support of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, he began Mission 66, New parks were added to preserve unique resources and existing park facilities were upgraded and expanded. In 1966, as the Park Service turned 50 years old, emphasis began to turn from just saving great and wonderful scenery, Director George Hartzog began the process with the creation of the National Lakeshores and National Recreation Areas. Since its inception in 1916, the National Park Service has managed each of the United States national parks, Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the United States.
In 1872, there was no government to manage it. Yosemite National Park began as a park, the land for the park was donated by the federal government to the state of California in 1864 for perpetual conservation. Yosemite was returned to federal ownership, at first, each national park was managed independently, with varying degrees of success. In Yellowstone, the staff was replaced by the U. S. Army in 1886. Due to the irregularities in managing these national treasures, Stephen Mather petitioned the government to improve the situation. In response, Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane challenged him to lobby for creating a new agency, Mather was successful with the ratification of the National Park Service Organic Act in 1916. Later, the agency was given authority over other protected areas, the National Park System includes all properties managed by the National Park Service
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a national park spanning portions of Tuolumne and Madera counties in Northern California. The park, which is managed by the National Park Service, on average, about 4 million people visit Yosemite each year, and most spend the majority of their time in the seven square miles of Yosemite Valley. The park set a record in 2016, surpassing 5 million visitors for the first time in its history. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness, Yosemite was central to the development of the national park idea. First, Galen Clark and others lobbied to protect Yosemite Valley from development, Yosemite is one of the largest and least fragmented habitat blocks in the Sierra Nevada, and the park supports a diversity of plants and animals. The park has a range from 2,127 to 13,114 feet and contains five major vegetation zones, chaparral/oak woodland, lower montane forest, upper montane forest, subalpine zone. Of Californias 7,000 plant species, about 50% occur in the Sierra Nevada, there is suitable habitat for more than 160 rare plants in the park, with rare local geologic formations and unique soils characterizing the restricted ranges many of these plants occupy.
The geology of the Yosemite area is characterized by granitic rocks, about 10 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada was uplifted and tilted to form its relatively gentle western slopes and the more dramatic eastern slopes. The uplift increased the steepness of stream and river beds, resulting in formation of deep, about one million years ago and ice accumulated, forming glaciers at the higher alpine meadows that moved down the river valleys. Ice thickness in Yosemite Valley may have reached 4,000 feet during the early glacial episode, the downslope movement of the ice masses cut and sculpted the U-shaped valley that attracts so many visitors to its scenic vistas today. The name Yosemite originally referred to the name of a tribe which was driven out of the area by the Mariposa Battalion. Before the area was called Ahwahnee by indigenous people, as revealed by archeological finds, the Yosemite Valley has been inhabited for nearly 3,000 years, though humans may have first visited the area as long as 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.
The indigenous natives called themselves the Ahwahneechee, meaning dwellers in Ahwahnee and they are related to the Northern Paiute and Mono tribes. Many tribes visited the area to trade, including nearby Central Sierra Miwoks, a major trading route went over Mono Pass and through Bloody Canyon to Mono Lake, just to the east of the Yosemite area. Vegetation and game in the region were similar to that present today, acorns were a staple to their diet, as well as seeds and plants, salmon. In 1851 as part of the Mariposa Wars intended to suppress Native American resistance and he was pursuing forces of around 200 Ahwahneechee led by Chief Tenaya. Accounts from this battalion were the first well-documented reports of ethnic Europeans entering Yosemite Valley, attached to Savages unit was Dr. Lafayette Bunnell, the company physician, who wrote about his awestruck impressions of the valley in The Discovery of the Yosemite. Bunnell is credited with naming Yosemite Valley, based on his interviews with Chief Tenaya, Bunnell wrote that Chief Tenaya was the founder of the Pai-Ute Colony of Ah-wah-nee
Pinnacles National Park
Pinnacles is managed by the National Park Service and the majority of the park is protected as wilderness. The national park is divided by the formations into East and West Divisions, connected by foot trails. The east side has shade and water, the west has high walls, the rock formations provide for spectacular pinnacles that attract rock climbers. The park features unusual talus caves that house at least thirteen species of bat, Pinnacles is most often visited in spring or fall because of the intense heat during the summer months. Park lands are prime habitat for prairie falcons, and are a site for California condors that have been hatched in captivity. Pinnacles National Monument was established in 1908 by U. S. President Theodore Roosevelt, Pinnacles National Park was created from the former Pinnacles National Monument by legislation passed by Congress in late 2012 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 10,2013. Native Americans in the Pinnacles region comprised the Chalon and Mutsun groups of the Ohlone people and these native people declined with the arrival of the Spanish in the 18th century, who brought novel diseases and changes to the natives way of life.
The last Chalon had died or departed from the area by 1810, from 1810 to 1865, when the first Anglo-American settlers arrived, the Pinnacles region was a wilderness without human use or habitation. The establishment of a Spanish mission at Soledad hastened the areas native depopulation through disease, archaeological surveys have found thirteen sites inhabited by Native Americans, twelve of which post-date the establishment of the missions. One site is believed to be about 2000 years old, by the 1880s the Pinnacles, known as the Palisades, were visited by picnickers from the surrounding communities who would explore the caves and camp. The first account of the Pinnacles region appeared in print in 1881, between 1889 and 1891, newspaper articles shifted from describing excursions to the Palisades to calling them the Pinnacles. Interest in the rose to the point that the Hollister Free Lance sent a reporter to the Pinnacles. Investors came from San Francisco to consider placing a hotel there. In 1894 a post office was established in Bear Valley, since there was at least one other Bear Valley in California, the post office was named Cook after Mrs.
Hains maiden name. In 1924 the post office was renamed Pinnacles, Schuyler Hain was a homesteader who arrived in the Pinnacles area in 1891 from Michigan, following his parents and eight siblings to Bear Valley. White, was a student at Stanford University, and White brought one of his professors to see the Pinnacles in 1893, dr. Gilbert was impressed by the scenery, and his comments inspired Hain to publicize the region. Hain led tours to Bear Valley and through the caves, advocating the preservation of the Pinnacles, Hains efforts resulted in a 1904 visit by Stanford president David Starr Jordan, who contacted Fresno Congressman James C. Jordan and Needham in turn influenced Gifford Pinchot to advocate the establishment of the Pinnacles Forest Reserve to President Theodore Roosevelt, Roosevelt proclaimed the establishment on July 8,1906
Southern California, often abbreviated as SoCal, is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises Californias 10 southernmost counties. The region is described as eight counties, based on demographics and economic ties, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara. The more extensive 10-county definition, which includes Kern and San Luis Obispo counties, is used and is based on historical political divisions. Southern California is an economic center for the state of California. The 8-county and 10-county definitions are not used for the greater Southern California Megaregion, the megaregions area is more expansive, extending east into Las Vegas and south across the Mexican border into Tijuana.5 million people. With over 22 million people, Southern California contains roughly 60 percent of Californias population, located east of Southern California is the Colorado Desert and the Colorado River at the border with Arizona. The Mojave Desert is located at the border with the state of Nevada while towards the south is the Mexico–United States border, within Southern California are two major cities, Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as three of the countrys largest metropolitan areas.
With a population of 3,792,621, Los Angeles is the most populous city in California and the second most populous in the United States. South of Los Angeles and with a population of 1,307,402 is San Diego, the second most populous city in the state and the eighth most populous in the nation. The counties of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, and Riverside are the five most populous in the state, the motion picture and music industry are centered in the Los Angeles area in Southern California. Hollywood, a district within Los Angeles, gives its name to the American motion picture industry, headquartered in Southern California are The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures, Universal, MGM, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Brothers. Universal, Warner Brothers, and Sony run major record companies, Southern California is home to a large homegrown surf and skateboard culture. Companies such as Vans, Quiksilver, No Fear, RVCA, some of the worlds biggest action sports events, including the X Games, Boost Mobile Pro, and the U. S.
Open of Surfing, are all held in Southern California. Southern California is important to the world of yachting, the annual Transpacific Yacht Race, or Transpac, from Los Angeles to Hawaii, is one of yachtings premier events. The San Diego Yacht Club held the Americas Cup, the most prestigious prize in yachting, from 1988 to 1995, Southern California is home to many sports franchises and sports networks such as Fox Sports Net. Many locals and tourists frequent the Southern California coast for its popular beaches, the desert city of Palm Springs is popular for its resort feel and nearby open spaces. Southern California is not a geographic designation and definitions of what constitutes Southern California vary. Geographically, Californias North-South midway point lies at exactly 37°958.23 latitude, around 11 miles south of San Jose, when the state is divided into two areas, the term Southern California usually refers to the 10 southernmost counties of the state