The Hart-Sheldon region is an American natural treasure filled with pronghorn antelope, open space, wildflowers, mountains and canyons, wild horses, and Native American rock art. Located in remote southeast Oregon and northern Nevada, the region encompasses Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, and other large expanses of public land including Beatys Butte.
Oregon's Wildlife Mecca: The Hart-Sheldon region is one of the best large intact sagebrush-steppe ecosystems left in the West and as a result wildlife thrives here. Sagebrush ecosystems are critically important to more than 350 species of wildlife, including mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, waterfowl and shorebirds, pikas, pygmy rabbits, and one of the highest densities of greater sage-grouse in the US.
Because this area is vital to the natural history of Oregon’s desert lands, ONDA has worked for decades to restore, protect, and connect the landscape.
Stewardship: For over twenty years ONDA volunteers have been coming to the Hart Mountain Refuge to help remove unneeded barbed-wire fence which can create barriers for pronghorn and other wildlife. This effort, in coordination with other groups, has resulted in nearly 300 miles of fence being removed from Hart Mountain Refuge.
Partners: ONDA has partnered with the Friends of Nevada Wilderness (FNW) to dedicate an unprecedented amount of manpower to removing fences from the Sheldon Refuge. In 2011, 140 volunteers from Nevada and Oregon came to the refuge to help pull fence, resulting in over 70 miles of fence being removed. The future of unneeded barbed-wire fences on these refuges is looking grim, as year after year we come closer to removing all the interior fences with big smiles on our faces and sweat on our brows.Both the Hart and Sheldon Refuges were originally designated to protect the summer and winter ranges of the pronghorn. However, the habitat quality and connectivity between the two refuges has never been intensively studied. To fill this information gap, ONDA worked with the Oregon Biodiversity Information Center and US Fish & Wildlife Service to develop a spatial Resource Vulnerability Assessment for both Hart and Sheldon Refuges and the surrounding lands. All this information will help ONDA and partners identify key places for restoration and conservation.
Thinking about the future: The Hart-Sheldon landscape is recognized as a potential place for wildlife resiliency in Great Basin due to the elevation shifts, wildlife diversity, and habitat integrity. ONDA worked with NatureServe, a leader in climate change modeling, to test management and climate scenarios so that we can identify high priority connectivity corridors to ensure resiliency for native wildlife.