National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 through October 15. Friends of the Inyo is celebrating with our community by sharing the meanings of just a few Spanish-language words in the nature and conservation arena that have made their way into English.

Today’s word is mesa, which in English means an isolated relatively flat-topped natural elevation usually more extensive than a butte and less extensive than a plateau, according to Merriam-Webster Online. It is a geological term that comes from the Spanish word for table. An English word sometimes also used for mesa is tableland.

An example of a mesa in Southern Inyo County is Conglomerate Mesa, which you can appreciate in the photo above. This impressive geological formation is located in the Inyo Mountains just a few miles west of the Death Valley National Park boundary. Administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Conglomerate Mesa is the ancestral homeland of the Shoshone (Newe), Paiute (Numuu), and Timbisha Native Americans, who still utilize it and the surrounding areas for exploration, hunting, and pinyon nut gathering. It is an oasis for a number of sensitive and rare desert plants, including the Inyo Rock Daisy, the Mojave Fishhook Cactus, Parry’s Monkeyflower and the Joshua Tree, which is thriving on Conglomerate Mesa but doing less well at lower elevations due to climate change.

Safeguarding Conglomerate Mesa for the present and future generations of all living beings that depend on it, as well as for the many visitors who enjoy its desolate beauty by day and its stunning, star-studded skies at night, is important to Friends of the Inyo. FOI, which works to protect and care for the public lands of the Eastern Sierra, is a leading member of the coalition to Protect Conglomerate Mesa, and manages the website, where you can find out more about this precious desert landscape through an interactive story map in English and Spanish. You can also learn how to get involved in protecting Conglomerate Mesa from mining development together with Friends of the Inyo. Want to reserve a seat at this important conservation mesa (table)? Write to