A few years ago, Nevada Outdoor School was approached by our friends and partners at the USDA Forest Service, Humboldt - Toiyabe National Forest, Santa Rosa Ranger District office with a problem happening in the Santa Rosa range. Humboldt County is the top agriculture producing county in the state and the Santa Rosas have many grazing allotments that the area ranchers pay the Forest Service to graze their cattle on. Someone was leaving the fencing gates open as they passed through and cattle were getting out. Off road recreationists and hunters were being blamed and the cattlemen were not happy with the Forest Service’s ability to monitor and prevent the gates from being mismanaged.
This is when Nevada Outdoor School and the Santa Rosa Ranger District came up with an idea. We took a long backcountry ride and a good look at the main problem area on the topographical maps and decided we could develop an ATV/OHV loop road with existing roads and trails with these cattle guards installed at the gate crossings that would allow easy trail riding for recreationists but keep the cattle managed properly.
As with most bright ideas, came the cloud of reality. How do we fund this project? The Forest Service could only help us with the plan, some direction and minimal man power and Nevada Outdoor School didn’t have enough people on staff to do the work. This is when we got creative in our funding possibilities. We wrote a grant application to Nevada State Parks Recreational Trails Program to fund the cost of the cattle guards, fencing supplies, a new kiosk to post at the trail head, and a truck and trailer to haul everything. We wrote a position description to be submitted and approved by the AmeriCorps Nevada National Service Program through Nevada Volunteers and were able to pay for the man power through that grant. We found the perfect AmeriCorps member and then we got to work with a few volunteers from the Northern Nevada ATV Club. It took us a couple of years to finish, and of course ongoing maintenance needs to happen to keep the loop trail open and free of overgrowth and debris, but the finished result is something to be proud of and we call it the Buckskin & Table Mountain OHV Loops. This project is a perfect example of how some creative fundraising requests from some large federal agencies and a small non-profit with a few volunteers from the community can come together to make things happen on our public lands for the better.
The larger Buckskin loop is 27 miles and the smaller Table Mountain loop is about 8 miles of uninterrupted riding. And the scenery? My goodness! This is some of the most beautiful and breathtaking backcountry exploring you can do in this state, without the interruption of frequent gate management. Though I do encourage you to stop frequently and just look around. The beauty of the area is astounding and the wildflowers cover the mountainsides! Take several pictures and keep your eyes open for the abundance of wildlife. I promise, like me, you will want to come back again and again to enjoy the Santa Rosa Mountains whether you are on an ATV, OHV, dirt bike, horseback, hiking or in a pickup. It’s accessible to all of us.
Happy Trails ~