Last on our list of spectacular places this week is the Pine Forest.
Located in Nevada, this swath of public land is special not just for it's hunting and fishing resources, but also for the group that has come to represent it's best interests. The group – a mix of locals of all stripes and backgrounds – came to the table and made it their priority to find solutions to the types of land use decisions that had been problematic throughout the West for decades.
The product of that group is the Pine Forest Range Recreation Enhancement Act – a bill that would designate new wilderness in the Range through a series of unique compromises and agreements.
The proposed wilderness, which expands the Blue Lakes Wilderness Study Area but releases much of the Alder Creek WSA for multiple use management, would conserve an area of Nevada that provides some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities in the state. Mule deer, pronghorn antelope and California bighorn sheep thrive in a landscape that ranges from 5,400 to more than 9,000 feet of elevation. The area also provides habitat for sage grouse, chukar partridge and valley quail and most wildlife species found in the Great basin. Three fishable lakes, the Blues Lakes complex, Onion Valley and Knott Creek reservoirs, are popular destinations for thousands of anglers who visit each summer and fall.
While a bill has local support from the community and bipartisan support in Congress, the battle to pass it is still an uphill one.
“We’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer,” said Jim Jeffress, the Nevada backcountry coordinator with Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “It’s not an easy process, there’s no doubt. But some places are worth the effort it takes to protect them. The Pine Forest definitely falls under that heading. When you see a big covey of chukar or some bighorn enroute to the lakes or pronghorn race in front of you, it just doesn’t get much better than that. There’s no doubt, places like this need to remain in tact and deserve protection.”