To thriving herds of mule deer and Bighorn sheep, it is home. To us, it is Nevada’s most sacred natural wonder.
Words hardly do justice to the incredible natural resources of northern Washoe County. To try and describe the top of the Granite Range, with its lush native grasses, aspen stands, and wet meadows, with the Black Rock Desert in sight just over the east edge, or adequately convey the significance of the springs and streams of Buffalo Meadows and Wall Canyon to the region’s wildlife is almost impossible. One official described the area as the “holy land” for its diverse and abundant wildlife, which includes Bighorn sheep, mule deer, pronghorn, sage grouse, chukar, trout and more. To others, these areas are prime hiking, camping, and bird watching destinations. No matter one’s interest, these are perhaps the finest examples of Nevada’s rich natural heritage, worthy of belonging to the future generations of our fine state.
And now, more than 17,000 acres of this prime wildlife habitat in northern Washoe County, including formerly private inholdings in federally-designated Wilderness Study Areas, now belong to the public, thanks to Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA) funding for the $6,000,000 purchase price and a strong partnership between the Nevada Land Conservancy, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and landowners Todd and Sam Jaksick.
"Our family spends a tremendous amount of time in Northern Washoe County," said Todd Jaksick, "We think it's a great place and we're honored to be a part of protecting these lands for future generations."
BLM State Director Ron Wenker called this acquisition one of the most important wildlife protection initiatives since the inception of the SNPLMA program. "The acquisition will directly affect our ability to safeguard, among other things, what many consider to be the healthiest mule deer and California bighorn sheep herds in Nevada, as well as critical sage grouse breeding grounds and the only known home of the endangered Wall Canyon sucker fish," Wenker said.
BLM and the Nevada Land Conservancy have been working with the landowners since 2003 for federal acquisition of the land in order to protect the wide variety of resources on the property. This is the largest and most complex SNPLMA acquisition to date, with more than a hundred distinct parcels with appurtenant water rights across three BLM administrative areas - the Winnemucca field office in Nevada, and the Surprise and Eagle Lake Field Offices in California. The parcels, all within Nevada, are scattered throughout the Granite Range north of Gerlach, and include portions of the Buffalo Hills, Twin Peaks, and Poodle Mountain Wilderness Study Areas, and range from high alpine meadows to sagebrush lowlands.
"From the beginning, this acquisition had the support of multiple wildlife advocates, hunting and fishing enthusiasts, and recreationists. It is an exceptional opportunity on all those fronts, as well as for the cultural resources that will be protected," stated Alicia Reban, President of the Nevada Land Conservancy.
The BLM is authorized to sell land in the Las Vegas Valley under the authority of the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act of 1998 (SNPLMA), as amended (Public law 105-263). The proceeds from the disposal of these lands are held in a special account used to fund projects in Clark, Lincoln, and White Pine counties including acquisition of environmentally sensitive lands throughout Nevada.
The BLM is one of five federal agencies that manage environmentally sensitive lands acquired by the United States as a result of the SNPLMA legislation.