In 1980, the 196,128-acre Clan Alpine Mountains Wilderness Study Area (WSA) was identified by the Nevada BLM Wilderness Inventory Process. The 1991 BLM Wilderness Recommendations for the Clan Alpine Mountains stated that 127,670 acres be considered for non-wilderness and only 68,458 acres of the central core of the range be recommenced for wilderness. Absurdly, the recommendation were based on the "potential" for mineral and energy resources, based on the 1983 Clan Alpine Mountains G-E-M Resources Areas (GRA No. NV-05) Technical Report (WSA NV 030-102). Essentially this report concluded that there was virtual no economical mineral resource within the entire WAS and that energy potential was nonexistent within the unit, although there might be some uranium values outside of the WSA. As for mineral potential, the report also speculated that, although there had been limited mineral production in the past and that there were no economical present mineral operations at present , a few mineral traces indicated a possible association with minerals at depth that could be productive if they could be accessed by a large strip-mine. Although none of the speculation was proven, the BLM made the recommendation to eliminate 65% of the Clan Alpine Mountains Wilderness, based on exaggerating unproven speculation from the 1983 Minerals Report and the conviction that the entire norther portion of the range was only waiting for 95 miles of new roads and 800 drill pads to be constructed to find the buried treasure that most likely never existed.
There were other forces involved in opposing Wilderness for the Clan Alpine Mountains as outlined by the summary of the 1990 public comments for the WSA: of the 54 comments received, 38 supported wilderness for the Clan Alpine Mountains and 16 comments supported no wilderness for the area (a number of these comments also described a blanket opposition any and all wilderness). Additionally the state of Nevada first opposed wilderness for the Clan Alpine Mountains, then supported wilderness, Churchill County opposed wilderness, the Navy opposed wilderness designation because it could constrain the activities they wanted to conduct in the greater region, and the ever-present oppositional mineral community conducted dubious activities like filing hundreds of dubious (and likely illegal) mining claims within the Clan Alpine Mountains after the area was identified as a WSA. Fortunately the 1991 BLM Wilderness Recommendations by the BLM were only a recommendation and the BLM was obligated to protect the entirety of the Clan Alpine WSA until congress made the decision on if and how much Wilderness would be Protected. The Livestock Industry neither supported nor opposed Wilderness for the Clan Alpine Mountains WSA.
In 2018 Navy announced plans for the Fallon Range Training Complex Modernization, which included seizing and closing over 550,000 acres of American Public lands in Nevada and included "taking" over 18,000 acres of the Clan Alpine Mountains WSA. A broad, diverse coalition of counties, the state, stakeholders, conservationists, and the public jumped into action to oppose such a egregious assualt of public lands. Between 2018 and 2022, the Congress pressed the Navy to work with local stakeholders including the counties, Tribes, State of Nevada, conservationists, land owners and users of public lands. The Navy listened and promptly ignored the input, barely budging from their original proposal for control of over a half-million additional acres of American public lands. In the last months of 2022 however, the Navy’s efforts gained momentum in the U.S. Congress and with the Biden Administration. The coalition changed tactics and focused on wilderness protections for some of the WSAs adjacent to the Fallon expansion. The Clan Alpine Mountains WSA was one of the areas evaluated. Working with coalition members, FNW help draft boundaries that addressed conflicts and issues with stakeholders. The boundaries of the WSA were trimmed to where the proposal for Clan Alpine Wilderness was reduced in the 2023 National Defense and Authorization Act (signed into law December 23, 2022) to a total of 128,362 acres, with an additional 28,000 acres of the WSA being protected for natural and cultural resources as part of the Numu Newe Special Management Area. Learn more about the campaign and NDAA bill here.