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The Worlds Smallest Mountain Range

MPS: Yuba City, CA, USA: The Sutter Buttes, known as The World's Smallest Mountain Range, is a volcanic outcropping that rises from near sea level in the Sacramento Valley to almost 2000 feet and covers almost 75 square miles of the valley floor.

Sutter Buttes seen from Yuba City

The Sutter Buttes Mountain Range as seen from Yuba City.

The Buttes, as they are called locally, played an important role in the native Maidu mythology. One Maidu myth is central to a raging controversy between California and hunters worldwide. The myth is that of the legendary Sky Sheep.

The name was given centuries ago to the sheep that preferred to graze high near the sky on the peaks of The Buttes. But, the name is derived even more from the unusual sky blue color of the sheep's wool. A trait that makes the Sky Sheep a highly desired prize of hunters.

The land in and around The Buttes is owned separately by The State of California and private property owners. The State declared it's portion to be a state park which it closed to public access pending development. Officials suggest it may be a decade before the park is opened to the public.

Hunter's, being a part of the public, are outraged that their access to The Buttes is denied them. They have protested to The State Parks Department, the legislature, and to the governor to no avail. They have requested access from the private landowners who have refused them.

While the controversy simmers the Sky Sheep may wander in the safety of The World's Smallest Mountain Range. Perhaps hiding in the ancient Native American Holy Grounds or among the ruins of the early pioneer's settlements. No one really knows. For no one alive has ever seen a Sky Sheep.

The Sky Sheep

An Artists concept of the legendary,
almost mystical, Sky Sheep.

It makes one wonder what myths are made of. Did the Sky Sheep share the mountainsides with the ancient Maidu, bounding freely across the peaks and through the seasons? Or, are they a dream fermented in a yakkadew seed brew? A tale once told, dreamed again told again through the years. It makes one wonder what myths are made of.

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