National Wildlife Range
|16001 Corn Creek Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89124 - 8402
Phone Number: 702-879-6110
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Desert National Wildlife Range
The Desert National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 1.6 million acres of the Mojave Desert in southern Nevada 25 miles north of Las Vegas, and is the largest national wildlife refuge in the continental 48 states. The range was established May 20, 1936, for the protection, enhancement, and maintenance of the desert bighorn sheep.
It forms one of the largest intact blocks of desert bighorn sheep habitat remaining in the Southwest. Desert Range contains six major mountain ranges with elevations from 2,400 feet to almost 10,000 feet. Rainfall amounts vary from 4 to 15 inches; the various elevations, have created amazingly diverse habitats suited to a wide variety of flora and fauna.
Over 500 species of plants have been identified in plant communities or zones varying from saltbrush on the valley floors to ponderosa pine, white fir, and bristlecone pine at the highest elevations. The wide variety of vegetative communities provides ideal habitat for many birds, mammals, and reptiles.
Getting There . . .
The major access point is through the Corn Creek Field Station, which can be reached by traveling northwest on U.S. Highway 95 about 25 miles from Las Vegas.
A brown sign on the east side of the highway near milepost 101 marks the 4-mile gravel road into Corn Creek.
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The refuge was established to protect desert bighorn sheep and their habitat. The agile desert bighorn is at home in steep, rocky, mountains and foothills, where they find food, water, escape terrain, and, most importantly, space. Bighorn can be extremely intolerant of human interference, and the 1.5 million acres of the Desert Range provides much needed refuge.
Having rebounded from a record low of 300 in the late 1930s, the desert bighorn population now numbers about 750. This is well below the peak numbers recorded in the late 1970s to middle 1980s, which coincided with a period of high precipitation.
Water is the most important limiting factor for bighorn populations and is in short supply on much of the range. For this reason, 30 springs have been improved and 26 guzzlers have been developed. Guzzlers, or rain catchments, collect precipitation and deliver it to an underground storage tank that fills a small drinking trough.
The improvement and careful placement of water resources dramatically helps bighorn populations. More widespread distribution lowers competition for water and forage and reduces vulnerability to predators and disease. In order to better manage the bighorn sheep, animals are occasionally captured and relocated.
At times, bighorn sheep are trapped with nets, then transported to release sites. The sheep are relocated to reestablish herds in former historic ranges, ensuring the survival of the desert bighorn. Often the trapped sheep are marked with ear tags and may be fitted with radio collars that enable tracking of individuals to determine seasonal movements.
During the early stages of World War II, an aerial bombing and gunnery range was superimposed on the western portion of the Desert Range. This use continues to day as the U.S. Air Force Nellis Test and Training Range. Use of the air space is restricted to lessen wildlife disturbance. Due to safety and other security concerns, this area is closed to all public entry