Wild Lands of Great Basin National Park

Since the turn of the 20th century, the South Snake Range has been managed for various levels of resource protection.  The founding legislation for Great Basin National Park included livestock grazing as part of a "multiple use" park. For the first decade of the park, cattle wandering though defecating in the campgrounds creating conflicts with campers. Cattle also trampled water sources, meadows, and trails, negatively impacting visitor's experiences.  In 1993, the "Final General Management Plan" outlined the visitor conflicts and ecological issues of grazing in the park, without making any recommendations. The “Natural and Cultural Resources Management Plan 1994” finally tackled the issue: “Livestock grazing is the biggest natural resource impact affecting many biological communities,” and elaborated on the problems including deteriorated range conditions, competition with wildlife for forage and water, the potential for disease transfer from domestic sheep to wild bighorn, and, finally, livestock encounters with park visitors. Fortunately, the founding legislation for Great Basin National Park include buyout language for grazing leases within the park. In 1999, the Conservation Fund coalesced the effort for the buyout and succeeded. Today, the 77,180 acres of Great Basin National Park is managed for wildlife, wildlife habitat, and ecological integrity.  It also serves an important scientific research area as a baseline for non livestock-grazed Great Basin ecosystems, a rarity in the state.  Great Basin National Park is an outstanding example of science-based ecosystem management of wild public lands. For more information on the Conservation History of the South Snake Range, see the Additional Resources Tab.