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There are a total of 108 Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) and designated Wilderness Areas (WAs) within the geographic boundary of the State of Nevada (45 wilderness areas and 63 wilderness study areas). These WSAs and WAs are listed under the field office with primary administrative jurisdiction.

Number of acres in Wilderness Areas within the State of Nevada                   2,056,545

Number of acres in Wilderness Study Areas within the State of Nevada         2,542,505

Wilderness Review Process

In 1977, the BLM set about the task of inventorying nearly 49 million acres of public land within Nevada.
The "initial" inventory consisted of an assessment of Federally-owned roadless units of land that were at least 5,000 acres or more in size. BLM looked at potential impacts, land ownership, existing uses, and structures within each inventory unit.
Some 34 million acres were found in the "initial" inventory to be impacted by roads, mining activities, power lines and other man-made impacts, or were too small (i.e., less than 5,000 acres) to effectively manage as wilderness. These 34 million acres were dropped from further wilderness review in 1979 at the conclusion of the "initial" inventory.
Then, BLM divided the 15 million acres that remained into "intensive" inventory units and assessed each unit with regard to its wilderness characteristics. We determined first if the unit generally appeared to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable. Next, we determined whether the unit had outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation. Finally, we determined if the inventory unit contained archeological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic or historic value.
The result of the "intensive" inventory was the November 1980 designation of 110 wilderness study areas in Nevada covering 5.1 million acres.
Between 1980 and 1991, each wilderness study area was analyzed and studied through 17 environmental impact statements prepared statewide to evaluate the level of impact on wilderness values, mineral and energy resources, recreational off-road vehicle use, livestock development maintenance and construction, vegetative manipulation projects, woodland product harvesting, and wildlife concerns.
In addition, each wilderness study area was evaluated with regard to its representative contribution to the National Wilderness Preservation System, its proximity to population centers, its manageability in terms of its capability of being effectively managed as wilderness, and its social and economic impact.
Each wilderness study area was subjected to extensive public scrutiny and the public participated fully in the review of each Environmental Impact Statement through public meetings, workshops, open houses, mailings, map reviews and written comments.
Environmental impact statements were further examined by all State agencies and comments were consolidated through the State Clearing House and the Governor’s Office.
Early in 1991, the BLM completed a wilderness study report which contained recommendations for "wilderness" and "non-wilderness" for each of our 110 wilderness study areas. The report called for designation of 1.9 million acres in all or portions of 52 wilderness study areas and the release of 3.2 million acres for uses other than wilderness.
The report was sent to the Secretary of the Interior in October of 1991 and eventually to the President and Congress.
It is important to note, there is no time limitation on Congress to act on our recommendations and Congress has sole authority to designate wilderness areas as new additions to the National Wilderness Preservation System. Coincidentally, only Congress can release lands under wilderness review for uses other than wilderness.

Designated Wilderness Areas in Nevada

  • Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area Act of 2000
    Public Law 106-554, passed on December 21, 2000, andwas amended November 6, 2001. The National Conservation Area (NCA) Act of 2000 created 10 Wilderness Areas in and contiguous with the NCA.  Seven are located entirely within the boundaries of the Winnemucca Field Office (WFO).  Two other wilderness areas are located partly within the WFO.  One other is located entirely within the Surprise Field Office and the remaining parts of the other two are also located within the Surprise Field Office.
  • Clark County Conservation of Public Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002
    This bill designated 17 Wilderness Areas in Clark County, Nevada, and expanded one existing wilderness Area.  Of these, 13 are managed in whole or in part by the BLM.
  • Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation and Development Act (2004)
    Public Law 108-424 was passed November 30, 2004.  It created 14 new Wilderness Areas in Lincoln County.
  • White Pine County Conservation, Recreation, and Development Act of 2006
    On December 20, 2006, Public Law 109-432 created in Nevada, 12 new Wilderness Areas and expanded 2 existing Wilderness Areas. Eight of those areas are managed by the BLM Ely Field Office.