If beauty is about contrasts, it has never been more apparent than at the outer reaches of the lush Galena Forest, where an evergreen paradise offers shelter from the barren desert landscape.
Where there is water, we seek hydration; where there is shade, we seek cover; and where there is a trail, we seek safe passage. A healthy forest provides the means for survival: nourishment, refuge, and a path for migration.
Nevada Land Trust facilitated the acquisition of four acres that were essential to linking Galena Creek Regional Park and the National Forest Service visitor center via a trail system, thanks to Round 4 Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA) funding.
In addition to improving public access, the acquisition created a buffer to keep the summer range habitat intact for the Martis Band of the Truckee Loyalton deer herd and black bear. In fact, the diversity of wildlife in this area is extremely rich, with bobcat, mountain lion, coyote, jack and cottontail rabbits, Sierra Nevada red fox, Golden Mantle ground and grey squirrels, Douglas squirrels, short tail weasel, marmots, raccoons, mice, rats, and even the small brown bat calling the property home.
However, much of the area’s natural splendor took root centuries ago. This special section of the forest maintains a large stand of Jeffery and Ponderosa pine, as well as plant and wildlife resources native to the Carson Spur, Mt. Rose Corridor of the Sierra Nevada Range, including the rare Washoe Pine found only in this area.
Meanwhile, what lies beneath the surface is yet to be discovered. The area has been surveyed with a high potential for historic and prehistoric activity. This may be due to the migratory pattern of the deer herds, available water, and relatively flat areas located within the forest, all of which may have been ideal for summer habitation by the Washoe and Paiute Tribes, early settlers, and ranching or logging operations from the areas’ colorful past.
We do know that long before there were roads, the area now known as the Galena Forest was a gateway to the Sierra—but to whom, for how long, and to what extent, remain largely unanswered questions—perhaps some of nature’s best-kept secrets, upheld across the ages and quietly buried among the trees.