Wovoka Wilderness

Wilderness Area

Citizen Proposed Area

Year Designated: 2014
Act or Law: 
State Region: Northwest Nevada
County Regions: Lyon   


Managing Agency: Forest Service
Local District: Bridgeport Ranger District
Contact Info: (760) 932-7070
HCR 1 Box 1000  Bridgeport, CA93517
Visit the website (will open a new window)


Area Description

The Wovoka Wilderness Area is the largest remaining tract of wild country in Lyon County, encompassing the southern portion of the Pine Grove Hills in western Nevada, south of Wellington and north of Bridgeport, California, east of Highway 338.

The core of the wilderness is the Forest Service's South Pine Grove Hills Inventoried Roadless Area. The Forest Service categorized this roadless area has having a high capacity for wilderness during its Forest Plan Revision initial assessment in 2006.

Wovoka Wilderness comprises at least 13 miles of roadless East Walker River. It is also home to a diversity of landscapes and experiences, from world-class flyfishing to rugged, multi-colored canyons, pinyon-juniper forests, seasonal lakes, critical habitat for the bi-state sage-grouse, rich archeological resources and wonderful views of the Sweetwater Mountains and Mount Grant.

The name honors Wovoka, the Paiute spiritual leader and father of the Ghost Dance, who prophesized a message of hope to Native Americans in the 1890s. Born in the region, Wovoka worked and found inspiration in these hills.

Elevations range from 5,200 feet along the East Walker River to 9,407 feet at the summit of Bald Mountain.

The Wovoka Wilderness contains critical habitat for the bi-state sage grouse population including leks and summer, winter and nesting habitat.

The area is rich in cultural resources, including drive fences, petroglyphs, house rings, ritual sites, and tool-making sites. A prehistoric village site, with at least 20 house rings, exists within the southeast portion of the proposal.

This area is an important pine-nut source for local Paiute Indians.

World-class flyfishing along the willow-lined East Walker River. At least 13 miles of the East Walker River runs through the southern portion of this proposal.

Important plants include Williams combleaf, Mono County phacelia, Bodie Hills draba, Barnebys serpentweed, and isolated populations of Jeffrey pine.

Important birds and animals include bighorn sheep, bear, bobcat, cougar, nesting golden eagles, small-footed myotis bats, Townsend's big-eared bats, and Apache silverspot butterflies.

Ecologically, the Pine Grove Range offers a critical link between the Sierra Nevada and Great Basin. To the west lie the Sweetwater Mountains; to the south, the Bodie Hills; to the east, the Wassuks and Mt. Grant. The Pine Grove Range provides critical habitat and migration corridors, both north-south in the Pine Grove Range and into the Bodie Hills, and east-west from the Wassuks and Mt. Grant through the Pine Grove Range, to the Sweetwaters and Sierra Nevada. This largely undeveloped landscape allows species to migrate seasonally and in response to stress caused by fire and drought.

From a recreation perspective, the Wovoka Wilderness provides a balance to the vehicle-impacted majority of the Pine Grove Hills, where hikers, equestrians, backcountry skiers, flyfishers and others can pursue these traditional forms of recreation without the disturbance of engines.

See also: Wovoka Wilderness: An Idea Whose Time Has Come.

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