This large landscape on the Oregon border is centered around one of the highest density Greater Sage-Grouse populations in the country. As part of an extensive landscape area, the site contains numerous habitat types, but is primarily sagebrush and sagebrush-steppe. The Bilk Creek and Montana Mountains are the two prominent ranges within the boundary. Ownership is primarily federal (BLM), but includes some private lands as well.

In 2012, the Holloway Fire (~475,000 acres) burned approximately 80% of the IBA. Federal and state agencies immediately reseeded the landscape with significant results in Spring 2013. Some of the exceptional lek and winter habitats have been destroyed by the fire. NDOW will be heavily monitoring the Greater Sage-Grouse lek sites to determine the level of impact by the fire. 

Ornithological Summary

This site supports the largest sage grouse population in NV, and one of the highest densities of sage grouse in the country. Other sagebrush obligate species are likewise supported in what appears to be high quality habitat, despite some localized areas impacted by over-grazing and by fire. Habitat type and quality appears suitable for Grasshopper Sparrow and Eastern Kingbird, though as yet neither species has been reported from here. Two of the observers in this area commented on the abundance and/or diversity of sparrows (ca. 8 species), though not all are on the NV IBA priority list.

Conservation Issues

The sagebrush-steppe of the Great Basin is rapidly being converted from native habitats to annual invasive grasslands. The cycle is driven by fire (often naturally caused) and the presence of cheatgrass. The two forces act synergistically to replace native vegetation which adapted to longer fire cycles and can not re-establish in the presence of the ca. 3 year fire cycles fueled by cheatgrass. Much of this landscape remains intact, but an extensive fire occured in the Double H Mountains in the recent past. The Double H Mountains were an important part of this landscape and once were included in the IBA. But habitat conversion in the range is so complete that the border of the IBA was adjusted to exclude the range, as it no longer supports the key species.

Ownership

Primarily in public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Winnemucca District. Private lands are scattered throughout, though the largest contiguous block is in the Bilk Creek drainage. Consistent with the land settlement pattern in Nevada, private lands are concentrated around water sources. A very small amount or tribal lands--actually less than 1 percent of the area, lie in the northeast corner.

Land Use

Most private lands in the area are involved in cattle ranching, including extensive alfalfa and grasslands irrigated for feed (in the Kings River Valley). Grazing alotments are leased on the BLM lands. This area is remote and because most roads are dreadful, relatively few visitors reach the area.

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