Straddling the Utah-Nevada border west of Milford, the proposed White Rock Range wilderness includes 3,900 acres in Utah and 24,065 acres in Nevada. These pristine mountains are bordered by steep fault scarps on the east and west; the summit plateau stands 2,500 feet above the pinyon-covered lowlands. The crest of the range offers excellent views of Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park and of the serrate ridges of many distant ranges. The many mid-elevation springs make the area a haven for wildlife. Almost all of the area is recommended for wilderness by the Nevada BLM.

Access to the area is from Modena, Utah, which is 45 miles west of Cedar City. Travel the Hamblin Valley dirt road 30 miles north to the edge of the White Rock Range. From here, we recommend a hike to the ridgetop by way of White Rock Cabin Springs.

In the Company of Deer and Elk

The White Rock Range is as isolated from human activity as any place in Utah. As a Coalition field researcher put it, "the upper plateau gives a feeling of spaciousness where my only company were deer, elk, hawks, and wind through the scattered trees." The Nevada BLM concurred, stating in its 1987 Schell Wilderness Recommendations final EIS: "The impact of designation of the WSA as wilderness would be to preserve the excellent opportunities for solitude, important scenic values, elk habitat, and the pristine character of the unit."

Hunters favor the White Rock Range for deer and elk and the wilderness hunting experience available in the area. The UDWR has identified the northern half of the unit as critical summer range for deer, and the BLM manages 18,200 acres of the WSA as crucial deer summer range. Cougar, bobcat, badger, jackrabbit, and other furbearers are found in the area, as are a variety of birds of prey and desert reptiles.

The main ridgeline of the White Rock Range rises from about 6,200 feet to over 9,000 feet. The gently mountainous terrain is mostly covered with pinyon pine and juniper woodland, but also supports ponderosa pine and white fir. There are several springs and meadows and two seasonal mountain lakes.

There has been no mining in the White Rock Range and, according to the BLM, none is expected. The Nevada BLM rated the oil and gas potential for the White Rock Range as low.

The Utah Wilderness Coalition Proposal

We agree with the Nevada BLM's judgment that its entire WSA should be designated wilderness. The BLM, however, excluded White Rock Mountain itself by truncating the WSA on the north along an imaginary line crossing cliffs and ridges. The line connects two rough jeep tracks between White Rock Springs and Ripgut Springs. Our proposal includes this area for a total of 3,900 acres in Utah, compared to the BLM's 2,900 acres. The BLM recommends that about a mile of jeep trail just south of Log Cabin Spring, in Utah, be cherrystemmed out of the wilderness proposal. We recommend that this and four other short ways (each less than a mile long) on the Nevada portion of the WSA be closed to motorized vehicles and included within the wilderness. We also note that the proposed spring and trough developments and 2,500 acres of chaining and burning on the western side of the area are unnecessary and incompatible with wilderness management.

Mike Medberry