Prime wildlife habitat in Nevada now public-owned |

Prime wildlife habitat in Nevada now public-owned

Associated Press Writer

RENO (AP) – Nearly 15,000 acres of prime wildlife habitat in northern Nevada is now in public ownership.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has purchased the Home Camp Ranch property about 150 miles north of Reno from the Jaksick family for $5.8 million, using money from public land sales in southern Nevada.

The property, dotted with springs, wet meadows, creeks, aspen stands, rocky outcrops and canyons, is a virtual oasis in the high desert.

Located generally northwest of the Black Rock Desert – site of the annual Burning Man festival – the rangeland is home to sage grouse, bighorn sheep, pika, mule deer and antelope.

The acquisition of the 14,838 acres of scattered parcels was arranged with the help of the nonprofit Nevada Land Conservancy based in Reno.

“This property is crucial to the health of wildlife populations in northern Washoe County,” said Alicia Reban, the conservancy’s president. “Fifty or 100 years from now, people will say, ‘Thank goodness somebody set this area aside.”‘

Shane DeForest, manager of the BLM’s Surprise Field Office in Cedarville, Calif., said the acquisition would allow his agency to better manage the property for wildlife.

“Public ownership will enable the BLM and partners to complete projects to conserve and improve habitat, including water resources that are critical to wildlife,” DeForest said.

The acquisition also will benefit outdoor recreationists, said Craig Schriber, board chairman of the land conservancy.

“There will be significantly improved access for hiking, hunting, bird watching and other recreation,” he said.

It’s the second-largest land deal funded under the federal Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, Reban said.

The largest involved the 2008 acquisition of 17,173 acres of nearby property around the Granite Range from the Jaksick family for $6 million.

The Home Camp Ranch property also features many sensitive plant species, historic cattle and sheep ranching sites, and prehistoric sites.

The acquisition prevents the property from being developed.

“We’re seeing more and more ranchettes, people carving out a getaway or a hunting camp,” Reban said. “You start to throw up fences around water sources and that’s a problem.”