Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness Study Areas


Breaking News- January 16, 2024

Proposed Sheldon Wilderness Designations within the Truckee Meadows Public Lands Management Act.


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Wilderness Area Status:

Wilderness Study Area
Year Designated:

Act or Law:
Acres: 341500
State Region: Northwest Nevada
County Regions: Humboldt  Washoe 


Managing Agency: US Fish & Wildlife Service
Local District: Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge
Contact Info: (541) 947-3315
P.O. Box 111, 18 South G Street, Lakeview, OR97630
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Area Description

The Sheldon is a vast and rugged land that provides year-round habitat as well as major wintering areas for the Oregon-Nevada interstate pronghorn herd. This is the largest protected land scape in Nevada managed exclusively for native wildlife species.  The Sheldon is Nevada's Serengeti. 

This large volcanic upland has been dissected by numerous drainages (seasonal and perennial). While the resulting tables tend to have rolling upper surfaces, their boundaries often are steep or precipitous. Elevations range between 4,000 and 7,200 feet.

The area's sparse vegetation is dominated by sagebrush, grasses and other shrubs with local areas of juniper or patches of mountain mahogany. Along the wetter drainages at lower elevations you can find willow, cottonwood and aspen. Away from the creeks, water sources are rare, and due to the underlying rock and soil, most upland areas are remarkably dry.

The Sheldon Refuge contains some of the highest-quality sage-grouse habitat remaining in North America. Protecting this habitat and enhancing its health is an important part to minimizing the impact of a possible Endangered Species Act listing of the sage-grouse in 2015.

Walking the uplands, the visitor is presented with big sky, wide vistas and the grand scope of nature.

Places like Bitner Butte, Gooch Table, Mule and Catnip Mountains urge the inner explorer to hike a little farther and see a bit more - maybe discovering exactly what led to Catnip's naming.

Domesticated livestock have been excluded from the Range since 1994.

The goal is to give wilderness protection to this isolated region of flat-to-rolling upland tables and the wildlife communities that it supports.

At 341,500 acres, the areas proposed for wilderness designation comprise nearly two-thirds of the entire Charles Sheldon Antelope Range and the Sheldon National Antelope Refuge combined. Designation of these areas as wilderness was first recommended by the Fish and Wildlife Service in the 1970's.

Wildlife: pronghorn antelope, California bighorn sheep, mule deer, pygmy rabbit, sage grouse, prairie and peregrine falcon, Lahontan cutthroat trout, Alvord chub and Sheldon tui chub.