Livestock Removal Success: Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge/Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge

Name: Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge/Sheldon National
Wildlife Refuge
State(s): Oregon, Nevada
County(ies): Lake
Watershed(s): Guano Creek, Guano Slough, Warner Lakes
Ecosystem Type: Sagebrush Sea
Species Benefited: Bighorn sheep, pronghorn, sage grouse
Federal Unit(s): Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge/Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge
Acreage: 825,000 acres
Method(s): Litigation, management planning
Law(s) Invoked: Executive Order, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
Term of Removal: The current management plan formally excluded livestock from the refuge in 1994 (although livestock were removed from the refuge four years prior, in 1990). Scheduled for review through management plan update in 2008.
Prime Mover(s): Oregon Natural Desert Association, Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, The Wilderness Society, Oregon Natural Resources Council
Summary Explanation:

President Franklin Roosevelt's Executive Order creating Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge and Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge allocated forage to pronghorn antelope and other wildlife. Litigation by conservation groups and subsequent management planning under NEPA forced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ban grazing inside the refuges. Grazing permits were also bought out on Sheldon NWR.

  High Country News Restoring a refuge: Cows depart, but can antelope recover? (November 24, 1997)
  Associated Press Pronghorn populations rebound on refuge: Success revives debate about ban on cattle grazing (August 11, 2003)
  High Country News A revival on Hart Mountain (November 10, 2003)
  Klamath Falls Herald & Tribune Wildlife at national antelope refuge doing well according to recent population surveys (November 12, 2004)
  2003 Hart Mountain Sage Grouse/Pronghorn Survey Data

Research by Earnst et al. (2005) found that, of those songbird species that exhibited any measurable change in abundance, approximately three-quarters of songbirds on Hart Mountain and Sheldon National Wildlife Refuges increased in abundance since the removal of domestic livestock from both refuges in 1990.

Earnst, S. L., J. A. Ballard, D. S. Dobkin. 2005. Riparian songbird abundance a decade after cattle removal on Hart Mountain and Sheldon National Wildlife Refuges. Pages 550-558 in Bird Conservation Implementation and Integration in the Americas: Proc. Third Int'l Partners in Flight Conf.; Mar. 20-24, 2002; Asilomar, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-191. USDA-Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. Albany, CA. (June 2005).