WINNEMUCCA – The U.S. Department of the Interior signed Public Land Order 7761 to extend a 20-year withdrawal of federal lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for an additional 20-year period. The 457,800-acre Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge is withdrawn from mineral entry and location under the U.S. mining laws, but not from the mineral leasing laws. The withdrawal extension will protect important sagebrush-steppe habitat for wildlife and will not affect recreational uses on the Refuge.
The withdrawal is necessary for the FWS to achieve the wildlife conservation purpose of the Refuge. The primary purpose of the Refuge is to preserve and protect one of the largest, last, and intact high-desert, sagebrush-steppe ecosystems in the Great Basin. The Refuge provides a variety of critical habitats for a host of species endemic to the sagebrush-steppe, including pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, greater sage-grouse, pygmy rabbit and Lahontan cutthroat trout. The Refuge’s management plan to upgrade this wildlife habitat is not compatible with mineral exploration and development.
Public Land Order 6849 initially withdrew the Refuge lands from mineral entry and location for a 20 years beginning April 22, 1991. The withdrawal extension will expire in 20 years on April 21, 2031, unless it is further extended. Public Land Order 7761 was published in the Federal Register on April 26, 2011.
The Refuge was established in 1931 and is located along the border of northwest Nevada and southeast Oregon. The majority of land surrounding the Refuge is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.