Our Special Nature

Big Bear Valley, set inside the San Bernardino National Forest, is host to amazing biodiversity. It contains 3 very specialized plant habitats and over 1,600 plant species. That equates to 1/3 of the flora species in all of California being hosted in only 1% of the geographical area of the state.

Many of our local mountain wildlife live in critical habitat areas as defined and used in the Endangered Species Act. Critical habitat areas are defined as

  • Endangered – Any species in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future
  • Threatened – Any species likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future
  • Sensitive/Special Concern – Any species identified by a Regional Forester in the Forest Service for which population viability is predicted in downward trend


Pebble Plains

Each of the 3 rare habitats host their own diverse species. Pebble Plains habitat and several of the plants there exist nowhere else in the world. Our valley’s Montane Meadows (i.e. mountain meadows) are unique compared to all other mountain meadows and host species that exist only here. And although Carbonate habitat exists in other places, it is very rare in the world.

For more details about our habitats: Habitats


Our mountains are home to…

Rayless Daisies
  • 36 endemic plant species, that is plants living in restricted, limited habitats
  • 37 Endangered Species Act listed species – 21 are listed as threatened or endangered
  • 92 sensitive plant species

A few of our more famous and fun to spot special plants include bird-footed checkerblooms, ash-gray paintbrush, rayless daisies, dwarf pussy-toes, California dandelions, Douglas violets (bright yellow) and bitterroot.

For more details about our special plant species: Plants


Among our very special local wildlife species…

Flying Squirrel
  • 19 threatened or endangered wildlife species
  • 29 sensitive wildlife species/species of concern

Some of our very special wildlife includes bald eagles, southern rubber boas, yellow-legged frogs, California spotted owls, San Bernardino flying squirrels and the unarmored 3-spine stickleback fish.

Our valley is also home to many more common, but fairly hidden animals that you can spot on occasion—mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, black bears, deer, badgers and woodrats—and many that you can watch on a regular basis, like gray squirrels, chipmunks, cottontails, northern flickers, stellar jays, white pelicans, great blue herons and over a dozen different kinds of ducks and waterfowl.

For more details about our special animal species: Animals