A high mountain valley encircled by deep canyons, steep ridgelines, and rocky pinnacles, Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge is the gateway into California condor country. The refuge is an outpost on the edge of an unforgiving terrain where California condors safely forage, nest, and roost. Under the wing of these majestic birds, the refuge supports healthy examples of oak woodlands, grasslands, chaparral, coastal sage scrub, seasonal wetlands, riparian areas, and some of the last remaining intact stands of California black walnut.

Decorating the rock spires where condors now perch, preserved Chumash rock art symbolizes the connection these indigenous people have to the land and sacred bird. Hopper Mountain NWR emanates a sense of stewardship and conservation to neighboring lands. The refuge exemplifies productive relationships with neighboring landowners and partners. Refuge facilities serve as resources for the scientific community and academic institutions to conduct research supporting refuge purposes.

This 2,471-acre refuge adjoins the southern boundary of the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, a component of the U.S. Forest Service, Los Padres National Forest. The 53,000-acre Sanctuary contains critical California condor nesting and roosting habitat. Strategically located adjacent to the Sanctuary, the refuge helps buffer these nesting and roosting areas from human disturbance and protects a portion of the foraging habitat within a much larger area where the condors have historically foraged and fed. Hopper Mountain NWR also protects a variety of plant communities that provide habitat for other species protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Visit Us

There are no public roads accessing the refuge. There are no visitor oriented facilities for the public or interpretive signage on Hopper Mountain NWR. Also, public use could potentially disturb endangered California condors that nest and feed in the area and associated Recovery Program activities.  

As a result of the access constraints, all refuge visitors have been guided by refuge employees or led by partner organizations educated in refuge rules and regulations, such as the Friends of California Condors Wild and Free. Staff and partner-led guided interpretive tours provide limited opportunities for the public to engage in wildlife viewing and photography. Generally, the hiking groups at Hopper Mountain NWR do not exceed 25 people per event.

Wildlife-dependent recreation is also available on adjacent public lands, including the Los Padres National Forest, managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Dough Flat  

The U.S. Forest Service maintains an observation point at Dough Flat in the Los Padres National Forest. Please contact the U. S. Forest Service Ojai Ranger District Office for more information on road conditions at (805) 646-4348.

The Dough Flat site is along the public access corridor of the Sespe Condor Sanctuary in the Lo Padres National Forest, which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The driving time from Fillmore to Dough Flat is about 1 hour (13 miles). Plan to arrive around 9am and stay until 3pm to see condors flying over the Sanctuary. Be sure to take plenty of water and carry a spare tire in your vehicle. PLEASE note that the Sespe Condor Sanctuary (located on Forest Service land) is closed to public access. The road going to Dough Flat runs through a corridor which bisects the Sespe Condor Sanctuary. The public may access this corridor, but the Sanctuary to the west and east of this corridor is closed to the public. Please contact the USDA - U. S. Forest Service for more information on public use in the Los Padres National Forest at (805) 646-4348.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Los Angeles

Take Interstate 5 (I-5) north to Castaic Junction (33 miles). Take the Ventura off-ramp and follow Highway 126 west to the town of Fillmore (19 miles). Turn right at the stop light on “A” Street and head north. You will come to a yield sign where “A” Street becomes Goodenough Road go right. Goodenough Road will end after 3-4 miles at a fork in the road, go right which takes you into the Sespe oil fields. Follow the road, being careful to stay on the main road, the side roads will take you to oil well pads. After 3.3 miles you will see the Oak Flat Station building (no longer Forest Service station) on your left and a condor observation sign indicating the number of miles to Dough Flat. Stay on the main road going left. DO NOT make a right turn on the road which passes through a gate. The gate is closed to public access. Go about 7 miles to reach Dough Flat. Park and scan the cliffs. 

From Santa Barbara

Take Highway 101 south to Ventura. In Ventura, merge onto Highway 126 go east to Fillmore about 20 miles. In Fillmore turn left at the stop light at “A” Street and then continue as above.

Location and Contact Information

      Tours

      Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge north of Fillmore, CA is home to the California condor, the condor recovery program, and is the gateway to condor country. Tours for the public are offered by lottery through the Friends of California Condors Wild and Free. For more information and to get on their list, please email: friendsofcondors@gmail.com.

      Though the refuge is closed to the public and has been since its establishment due to the sensitive nature of California condor recovery activities, field trips may be arranged for education and nature related organizations to see these magnificent birds and their habitat. However, it is not guaranteed that we will see condors. Scheduling and capacity is limited. To check availability please email: hoppermountain@fws.gov

        What We Do

        The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mission:

        Working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance, fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

        Our Organization

        The National Wildlife Refuge System:

        The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 560 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.

        The National Wildlife Refuge System lands and waters serve a purpose distinct from that of other U.S. public lands: Wildlife conservation drives everything on national wildlife refuges, from the purposes for which each refuge was established, to the recreational activities offered, to the resource management tools used.

        Our Mission

        The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

        Our History

        On March 14, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt established Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, along Florida’s Atlantic coast, as the first unit of what would become the National Wildlife Refuge System.

        The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 560 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.

        Our Species

        Habitats:

        Coastal Sage Scrub

        Coastal sage scrub covers approximately 28% of the refuge, or approximately 679 acres, and is typically dominated by purple sage (Salvia leucophylla). Common species within this community on the refuge include coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica), golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), giant wildrye (Leymus condensatus), grape soda lupine (Lupinus excubitus), sugar sumac (Rhus ovata), and California sagebrush sagebrush
        The western United States’ sagebrush country encompasses over 175 million acres of public and private lands. The sagebrush landscape provides many benefits to our rural economies and communities, and it serves as crucial habitat for a diversity of wildlife, including the iconic greater sage-grouse…

        Learn more about sagebrush
        (Artemisia californica). Coastal sage scrub is found primarily on the Calleguas shaly loam and Castaic-Balcom complex soil types at the refuge, often on very steep slopes. Coastal sage scrub is a threatened vegetation community in the southwest region of California, and the type that occurs on Hopper Mountain NWR is the least protected type of coastal sage scrub (Davis et al. 1994; Davis et al. 1995). A large proportion (approximately 87%) of the coastal sage scrub landscapes dominated by purple sage are on private lands within the western Transverse Ranges. Hopper Mountain NWR is located where the South Coast Range meets the western Transverse Ranges—publically owned lands that are geographically near the 87% of the community that is under private ownership. The greatest threats to coastal sage scrub are habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation, which typically are associated with increasing fire frequencies, invasion of non-native plant species, and unregulated livestock grazing (CalPIF 2004).

        California Walnut Woodland

        California walnut groves (or woodlands) (classified in the Manual of California Vegetation as the Juglans californica alliance), are endemic to southern California and are primarily dominated by California black walnut. This vegetation type covers approximately 673 acres or approximately 27% of the refuge and is the most common woodland plant community present. In more open-canopy areas, California black walnuts associate almost exclusively with blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea). In canyons and the northeastern portion of Hopper Mountain NWR, black walnut mixes with other species, including coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) and canyon oak (Quercus chrysolepis). Other species associated with

        California walnut groves at Hopper Mountain NWR include hollyleaf redberry (Rhamnus ilicifolia) and California flowering ash (Fraxinus dipetala). California walnut woodland is a plant community that is endemic to southern California. Southern California black walnut (Juglans californica var. californica) is the dominant tree species in this community and it is state-listed as vulnerable. The California black walnut stands located on Hopper Mountain NWR exist as some of the last and largest remaining stands in southern California. See also Special Status and Culturally Important Vegetation in this chapter.

        California Annual and Perennial Grassland

        California annual and perennial grassland covers approximately 627 acres or approximately 25% of the refuge. The grasslands at the refuge are predominately composed of non-native annual grasses such as wild oats (Avena spp.), brome grasses (Bromus spp.), and foxtail barley (Hordeum murinum), but native species such as perennial needle grasses (Nassella spp.) and small fescue (Vulpia microstachys) are also present. Grasslands on the refuge contain numerous forb speciess, including native wildflowers like butterfly Mariposa lily (Calochortus venustus), checkerbloom (Sidalcea sp.), and golden stars (Bloomeria crocea). Some areas of the refuge also have a high percentage of non-native herbaceous species such as mustards (Brassica nigra and Hirschfeldia incana) and Italian thistle (Carduus pycnocephalus). Mustard species are especially prevalent in the grassland area between the wetland and the house. Grasslands cover only 3% of the vegetation in the southwest region of California (Davis et al. 1995). Almost all of those grasslands are nonnative grasslands. According to Davis and others (1995), non-native grasslands [not only native grasslands] are at risk in this region because only 6% are found in areas managed for maintenance of biodiversity, and 21% are on public lands managed for multiple uses. A large proportion (73%) is found on private lands not managed primarily for maintenance of biodiversity. The greatest threats to California grasslands are habitat loss and habitat fragmentation (CalPIF 2000). Most grasslands in California have been converted to agricultural or urban lands. In addition to loss of habitat, the patch size of remaining grasslands has decreased. Research from other regions in North America has demonstrated that grassland bird species (including some that breed in California) can be sensitive to patch size (CalPIF 2000).

        Chamise Chaparral

        Chaparral on the refuge is typically dominated by chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) and is generally found on steep slopes with rocky, poorly developed soils in the southern portion of the refuge. The far southern and much of the far eastern portions of the refuge have no roads or only very narrow ATV trails, which are difficult and dangerous to traverse. In addition, the terrain in these areas is extremely steep, with much exposed and loose rock. Because of these conditions, this plant community was not well sampled in field surveys. It is estimated to cover approximately 278 acres or approximately 11% of the refuge. Chamise chaparral includes a diverse mix of plants, with common species such as manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.), white sage (Salvia apiana), black sage (Salvia mellifera), yerba santa (Eriodictyon crassifolium), coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis), hoary ceanothus (Ceanothus oliganthus), poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum), penstemon (Penstemon sp.), deerweed (Acmispon glaber var. glaber [Lotus scoparius var. scoparius]), buckwheats (Eriogonum spp.), and spineflower (Chorizanthe sp.).

        There are 17 types of chaparral in the southwest region of California covering approximately 36% of the current land cover (Davis et al. 1995). Chamise, the most widespread chaparral plant species in the region, is found in many types of chaparral and occurs as a dominant or co-dominant species on approximately 67% of the chaparral in the region. The chamise chaparral vegetation type specifically constitutes 10% of the chaparral in the region. Chamise chaparral is fairly well represented in areas managed for maintenance of biodiversity (11%) and public lands managed for multiple uses (47%). Only 42% is found on private lands not managed primarily for maintenance of biodiversity. The greatest threats to chamise chaparral are the same as those of coastal sage scrub. These threats are habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation such as sometimes occurs with increasing fire frequencies, invasion of non-native plant species, and unregulated livestock grazing (CalPIF 2004).

        Coast Live Oak Woodland and Riparian Forest

        Coast live oaks are found scattered throughout the refuge in areas with more developed soils and more moisture. In canyon bottoms and in areas with flowing water, they form riparian riparian
        Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

        Learn more about riparian
        forest, whereas in other parts of the refuge, they are described as coast live oak woodlands. Both the riparian and non-riparian woodlands are part of the Quercus agrifolia alliance, but are separated here because of the important nature of riparian forests on the refuge and due to differences in management actions for those areas. The coast live oak woodlands cover approximately 47 acres, or nearly 2% of the refuge, while the coast live oak riparian forests cover approximately 29 acres, or a little more than 1% of the refuge. While there is much less than 1% cover of southern coast live oak riparian woodlands throughout the southwest region of California, this vegetation type is fairly well represented (16%) in areas managed primarily or maintenance of biodiversity in this region (Davis et al. 1995). In the northeastern part of the refuge, at some of the highest elevations of Hopper Mountain NWR, coast live oak are associated with other large tree species such as bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) and bigcone Douglas-fir (Pseudostuga macrocarpa). On north-facing slopes, this alliance may contain species associated with coastal sage scrub, whereas on hotter, drier slopes, the understory vegetation is composed of grassland species. Several of the oak trees in the central part of the refuge (south of the southernmost end of the refuge road) burned in the 2003 Piru Fire. Some of those oaks were killed, but many have resprouted and are showing vigorous growth. Coast live oaks in the riparian areas of the refuge are associated with other riparian species such as willow (Salix lasiolepis and S. exigua), as well as a small number of California sycamore (Platanus racemosa) and Fremont cottonwoods (Populus fremontii subsp. fremontii). Riparian ecosystems in arid western landscapes are ecologically important because they have the most diverse bird communities and are critical in maintaining the quality of in-stream habitat (Riparian Habitat Joint Venture 2004). Riparian areas in California provide important breeding and over-wintering grounds, migration stopover areas, and corridors for dispersal of birds. In fact, the loss of riparian habitats may be the most important cause of population decline among landbird species in western North America (DeSante and George 1994). Riparian habitats have been lost and degraded over the past 100 years through water management practices, agricultural conversions, channelization, recreation development, and the introduction of nonnative species (Knopf et al. 1988).

        Arroyo Willow Thickets

        Arroyo willow thickets (Salix lasiolepis alliance) are found in the area surrounding the man-made marsh in the central part of the refuge. They cover roughly 5 acres, or less than 1% of the refuge land. A natural spring to the northwest of the house complex creates the wet conditions that these willows require. Within the arroyo willow thickets, Salix lasiolepis may form pure to nearly-pure stands. However, arroyo willows are also found in the riparian forests as an understory species.

        Freshwater Marsh

        In 1989, a stone wall, made from large chunks of mineral deposits from the riparian areas, was constructed around a 330-foot by 225-foot marsh at the refuge, in close proximity to the house. This wall was built to keep cattle from grazing in this area and trampling the vegetation. Cattle were removed completely from refuge property in 1991, and the marsh began to grow and expand. The

        stone wall remains and continues to impound water that supports the marsh. Since 1991, the marsh and surrounding wetland area has expanded to over 5 acres, and it continues to expand. The freshwater marsh portion of this wetland area covers approximately 1 acre and is dominated primarily by bulrushes (Scirpus americanus and S. microcarpus), but other wetland plants are found here, including nettles (Urtica spp.), broad-leaved cattail (Typha latifolia), hemp dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum), and poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum). Together, the vegetation of the freshwater marsh and arroyo willow thicket provide important wetland habitat for many avian, amphibian, reptilian, invertebrate, and mammalian species.

        Wildlife:

        Twenty-four mammal species have been documented on the refuge, including coyote (Canis latrans), bobcat (Lynx rufus), mountain lion (Puma concolor), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), black bear (Ursus americanus), American badger (Taxidea taxus) big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), and Pacific kangaroo rat (Dipodomys agilis).

        A total of 103 bird species have been recorded on or near the refuge. Some of the more common resident birds of the area include the black phoebe (Sayornis nigricans), western scrubjay (Aphelocaoma californica), California quail (Callipepla californica), mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), and canyon wren (Catherpes mexicanus). Aside from the California condor, common raptors include the great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), and red tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) (USFWS 2002a). 

        Three amphibian species have been documented on Hopper Mountain NWR, including Baja California treefrog (Pseudacris hypochondriaca) (formerly recognized as P. regilla), California treefrog (Pseudacris cadaverina), and southern California toad (Anaxyrus boreas halophilus).

        Fifteen reptile species have been observed on Hopper Mountain NWR: tiger whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris), southern alligator lizard (Elgaria multicarinata), western skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus skiltonianus), Blainville’s horned lizard (Phrynosoma blainvillii), western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis), common sideblotched lizard (Uta stansburiana), southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oregonanus helleri), ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus), coast night-snake (Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha), California kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae), San Diego gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer annectens), western patch-nosed snake (Salvadora hexalepis), western black-headed snake (Tantilla planiceps), gartersnake (Thamnophis sp.), and Western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata) (USFWS 2002a). 

        Threatened and Endangered plants and animals:

        Threatened or endangered plants that have been known to occur on the refuge include: Round-leaved filaree, San Fernando valley spineflower, slender-horned spineflower, Conejo dudleya, Ross’s pitcher-sage, California Orcutt grass, Lyon’s pentachaeta, Nuttall’s scrub oak, and Greata’s aster.

        A species list of federally-listed, proposed, and candidate species from the Service’s Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office that may occur in the vicinity of Hopper Mountain NWR includes: California condor (endangered, designated critical habitat), coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica, threatened, designated critical habitat), California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii, threatened), Least Bell’s vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus, endangered), and southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus, endangered, designated critical habitat). 

        The California condor is the only federally-listed species known to occur on Hopper Mountain NWR.

        Although there is coastal sage scrub habitat, the threatened California gnatcatcher has not been documented at the refuge. Surveys would be needed to determine if the California red-legged frog is present on the refuge. Based on their range and lack of habitat, the Least Bell’s vireo and southwestern willow flycatcher are not expected to occur on the refuge. 

        State-listed wildlife that occur on Hopper Mountain are: bald eagle (Halianeetus leucocephalus, endangered) and Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni, threatened). The golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), which is listed as a fully protected species in California, and the western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea), designated by the CDFW as a California Species of Special Concern, occur on Hopper Mountain NWR. Oak titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus) is a Partners in Flight priority bird. They are not state-listed species.

        Condor FAQS:

        How can I tell the difference between a California condor and a turkey vulture?  

        Condors and turkey vultures have a few key differences besides their size. If you see a bird in flight, look for the lighter area on the underside of the wings to help determine the species. Juvenile condors have mottled white feathers along the leading edge of their wings. Adult condors have bright white underwing feathers. Turkey vultures have a silvery area along the back edges of their wings. Because underwing markings cane be difficult to see, the way the condor holds its wings is often one of the best ways to identify it. In flight, condors tend to hold their wings flat and soar without any rocking back and forth. They do flap their wings, but not as often as other birds such as turkey vultures. Turkey vultures hold their wings in a slight "V" pattern, and will rock side to side on the wing, like a balancing tight rope walker. Their flight is often described as wobbly or unstable when compared to that of a condor.

        The heads of juvenile condors are gray until they reach the age of 4-6, when their heads turn a pinkish orange. Adults have bright orange pick heads. Juvenile turkey vultures also have gray heads whereas the adults have bright red heads. Turkey vultures heads also look small in comparison to their body size.

        Also look to see if the bird you see has a number tag on either wing. Condors will only have one wing tag but it can be on the right or left wing. The tag can be orange, red, yellow, blue, white, black, purple, green, pink, or brown with one or two digits.

        Should I report a condor sighting?  

        If you see a condor that is ill, injured, or engaging in potentially dangerous behavior such as feeding on a carcass possibly shot with lead ammunition or a carcass laying in the road, approaching people, drinking from deep water containers, or perching on artificial structures, please report the sighting immediately by calling 805-644-5185 ext. 284 or ext. 294. Please report the date and time of the observation, location and activity of the condor, and the numbers on wing tag if possible. Other helpful information includes: how many condors were present and the behavior of the other condors, whether other species of birds were present and engaging in the same behavior, whether the behavior was a first or has happened before, and how long the condor was present.

        If you see condors that are not engaging in dangerous behavior, you are welcome to report those observations as well. Any condor sightings will help us keep track of their movements and activities. You can send an email to HopperMountain@fws.gov or call 805-644-5185.

        If you see a condor on your property, remember that although they are large, they pose no threat to humans, pets, or livestock. If you've been visited by condors on your ranch or property, please remember that state law may require switching to lead-free ammunition within condor range, as lead poisoning is one of the biggest threats to California condors in the wild. For more information on switching to non-lead ammo e-mail Chad Thomas with the Institute for Wildlife Studies at nonlead@IWS.org

        Please feel free to contact us with questions about California condors by sending an email at hoppermountain@fws.gov or calling one of the phone numbers listed above.

        Click here to check out the California condor species page.

        Get Involved

        Become an Intern:

        The California Condor Recovery Program has a volunteer internship program. This is 6 month commitment during which time volunteer interns will receive a living allowance of $40 per day of work while working on and around one of two wildlife refuges central to condor activity in Southern CA. 

        This volunteer opportunity focuses on the management of the free flying population of California Condors in Southern California. Selected applicants will track this population throughout its range using radio telemetry and by ground-truthing GPS transmitter data. Volunteers will observe condor behavior at feeding sites, roosts and nests. Field work requires: the ability to work independently and as a team; work and sometimes camp in remote areas during inclement weather or harsh environmental conditions; travel via ATV, 4WD vehicle, or by foot in steep mountainous terrain; carry 50lb carcasses to feeding sites; keep detailed field notes; follow data collection protocols for the collection and entry of accurate and consistent data; and assist in routine office work.   

        Check the Great Basin Institute for the latest position availability. 

        Become a member of our Friends Organization:

        Friends of California Condors Wild & Free is a nonprofit 501c3 organization that has the mission to enhance public awareness of the endangered California condor and ensure that they are protected, healthy, and free.

        As a member of the Friends of the California Condor Wild and Free, you will become a part of a group dedicated to the conservation of an endangered species. Some of their activities include:

        • Annual State of the CA Condor event 
        • Scheduled Refuge Projects 
        • Outreach Events 
        • Education Programs 
        • Advocacy 
        • Fundraising 
        • Networking with other conservation groups   

         

        All members receive event notifications, which contain information about Friends’ programs, Friends’ sponsored outreach activities, legislation affecting the Refuge and more.  

        Contact: friendsofcondors@gmail.com

        Click here to visit the website to learn more!   

         

        Projects and Research

        Wildlife and Habitat Management

        Hopper Mountain NWR was established in 1974 to provide safe roosting and foraging habitat for California condors and to protect other threatened and endangered species. Since its establishment, the Refuge has been closed to public use due to the sensitive nature of the California Condor Recovery Program activities, the sensitivity of its resources, and a lack of public access to the site. Vehicles are used regularly for condor management activities on the Refuge. All-terrain vehicles (ATV) and other motor vehicles such as pickup trucks are used for monitoring, tracking, feeding, and moving condors. Refuge staff use ATVs and hiking trails to access adjacent U.S. Forest Service lands and private property (with prior access agreements) to monitor condor nesting activity. At this time, condor monitoring activities are ongoing; however, no biological surveys are being done on the Refuge for other species.

        Drinking water  used for the Refuge staff is pumped from a natural spring on the Refuge by a solar powered water pump to a large above ground storage tank near the historic house and cabin. The natural spring also provides water for a water tank near the condor pen facility. 

        Fire Management 

        Fire preparedness is an important aspect of Refuge management. Fire management is currently limited to prevention or suppression. More information about the FWS fire team assigned to this area can be found on the Fire Management page. 

        Each year, prior to summer, a local fire department is contracted to remove vegetation around all structures. Fire crews create bare ground fire breaks around the main compound and the condor facility. Early in the spring when vegetation is beginning to sprout, the fire department ATVs with herbicide tanks with glyphosate herbicide to spray vegetation around all structures, reducing the amount of mowing required later in the summer. In total, approximately 15 acres of vegetation is cut or cleared around the structures on the Refuge. The main road is also occasionally graded as needed by the fire department using a road grader. 

        Oil and Gas Extraction Access

        There are currently 3 oil well pads that contain producing wells and storage facilities on Refuge lands. The lessees of this property are permitted to use a 2-track road to access the land. Land may be accessed via truck or ATV year round, depending on road conditions. The use is limited to conducting oil and gas related work, and the lessees regularly meet with Refuge staff to keep each party informed of management activities and hunting season communication.

        Cultural Resources Management

        Very few archaeological surveys have been performed within the boundaries of Hopper Mountain NWR, so the potential for significant cultural resource sites is not clearly understood. Since its establishment in 1972, fieldwork on the Refuge has fallen into three categories: 

        1) Third parties fulfilling requirements to obtain conditional use permits for oil exploration; 

        2) Compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) for Refuge management and Recovery Program activities; and 

        3) Post-wildfire damage assessment. The total acreage surveyed as a result of these efforts is unknown, but it totals no more than 20 acres at most, less than 1% of the Refuge’s total acreage.

        Comprehensive Conservation Plan

        The purpose of a CCP is to specify a management direction for the Refuge for the next 15 years. Click here to view the CCP for Hopper Mountain NWR.

        Learn More

        National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act

        National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997: The NWRS Improvement Act defines a unifying mission for all refuges, including a process for determining compatible uses on refuges, and requiring that each refuge be managed according to a CCP. The NWRS Improvement  Act expressly states that wildlife conservation is the priority of System lands and that the Secretary shall ensure that the biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health of refuge lands are maintained. Each refuge must be managed to fulfill the specific purposes for which the refuge was established and the System mission. The first priority of each refuge is to conserve, manage, and if needed, restore fish and wildlife populations and habitats according to its purpose.

        Learn More