Six Wilderness Study Areas are located in the Sheepshead Mountains Group:
- Sheepshead Mountains: 51,120 acres plus 3,270 acres of split-estate lands. In addition, this study area contains inholdings of private land totaling 800 acres;
- Wildcat Canyon: 32,720 acres plus 2,110 acres of split-estate lands. In addition, this study area contains inholdings of private land totaling 80 acres;
- Heath Lake: 20,100 acres plus 420 acres of split-estate lands;
- Table Mountain: 38,600 acres plus 1,992 acres of split-estate lands;
- West Peak: 7,900 acres plus 635 acres of split-estate lands; and,
- Palomino Hills: (3-l) 50,560 acres plus 4,040 acres of split-estate lands. The study areas are located about 65 miles southeast of Burns and about 4 miles northwest of Burns Junction in Harney and Malheur Counties, Oregon. The nearest major highway is Oregon State Highway 78, which forms the northern boundary of the Sheepshead Mountains and Palomino Hills.
The six study areas are located within an area 25 miles long (north to south) and 27 miles wide (east to west). The outside boundary of the combined area is formed primarily by roads, including Oregon State Highway 78 on the north, and a standard gravel county road on the northwest, and small scattered parcels of private land on all sides.
All of the study areas are separated by a network of BLM low standard dirt roads. These roads are used and maintained on an as-needed basis by BLM personnel and range users. The roads are also used by private landowners and recreationists. In addition, the area contains numerous parcels of split-estate land and several parcels of private land.
An area of BLM land totaling 15,200 and 1,200 acres of split-estate land is located along the western side of the group of and is referred to in this report as the Sulphur Springs area. Although not designated as a wilderness study area, the Sulphur Springs area is bounded on three sides by three and is included in one of the alternatives analyzed in the EIS.
The Sheepshead Mountains Group contains a variety of topographic features. The eastern and southern portions of the area include a plateau with elevation mostly above 5,000 feet. The eastern edge of this plateau is characterized by rolling hills and broad, gentle alluvial fans which slope down to the level. On the southern edge of the plateau, the descent to the lower elevations is much more abrupt and is typified by steep, south-facing ridgelines and a few deeply-cut canyons.
The western edge of the Sheepshead Mountains Group is much different in character. Like the southern portion of the area, the plateau ends abruptly near the center of the area along steep ridgelines which, in this part of the area, have facing slopes. The remainder of the western side of the Sheepshead Mountains Group contains a series of steep east-facing ridgelines with gentle western slopes, separated by low basins or depressions. Most of the ridgelines in this part of the Sheepshead Mountains Group reach an elevation of about 5,000 feet with the depression areas occurring at the or slightly lower. Several of the basins are which are seasonally flooded in early spring.