The Schell Field Office has undertaken the process of watershed analysis for the Cave Valley and Lake Valley Watersheds.
Cave and Lake Valleys are two of sixty-one total watershed management units on the Ely District. These watersheds are located southeast of Ely, Nevada. Cave Valley is flanked by the South Schell Creek Mountains on the East and the South Egan Mountains on the West. Lake Valley is flanked by the Fortification Mountains and the Wilson Creek on the East and the South Schell Creek Mountains and the Fairview Mountains on the West. The watersheds are characterized by generally north to south trending mountains, gently to steeply sloping benches and bajadas, and one valley bottom characterized by level to slightly rolling terrain. The watershed drains internally into alkali sinks in the center of the valley. Elevations in the watershed vary from about 5,900 feet in the valley bottom to 10, 900 feet on top of the South Schell Creek Mountain Range. Precipitation varies from a yearly average of about 6 to 12 inches on the valley bottom to 14 to 20 inches or more on top of the South Schell Creek Mountains. Precipitation occurs as winter snow or spring/fall thundershowers and rains with the driest period occurring from midsummer to mid-autumn. Average annual air temperature is from 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, decreasing as elevation increases. The average frost-free season ranges from 100 to 120 days in the valley bottoms to 50 to 90 days in upper elevations.
Combined, the watersheds consist of approximately 583,832 acres. BLM administers about 96% of this area (339,560 acres) and about 4% (20190) are private land. BLM’s mission is to manage the lands under their stewardship under a multiple use concept. Grazing is one of the multiple uses allowed on these public lands. Within the Cave Valley watershed are portions of eight allotments (Cave Valley Ranch, Haggerty Wash, Cave Valley Seeding, Sunnyside, and the Shingle Pass, Cattle Camp/Cave Valley, Sheep Pass, and Chimney Rock allotments. Those within the Lake Valley Watershed include portions of the Geyser Ranch, Atlanta, Pony Seeding, Brown Springs Use Area, and Fairview Allotments. Other uses that occur in this area are OHV use, hunting and fishing, camping, hiking and horse riding. There are four wilderness areas that lie (in part) in these watersheds (South Egan, Far South Egan, Mount Grafton and Fortification), which provide an opportunity for experiencing nature at its finest.
Vegetation communities within the watersheds include sagebrush communities (including basin big sagebrush, black sagebrush, low sagebrush, mountain big sagebrush, and Wyoming big sagebrush communities), greasewood and winterfat communities at the valley bottom and upland shrub, littleleaf mountain mahogany, and mountain mahogany communities at higher elevations. Woodland communities within the watershed include pinyon and/or juniper communities and mixed conifer and aspen communities at higher elevations. Riparian areas are also located within the watershed. These areas provide important habitat for wildlife species.
There are many wildlife species that make their home in these watersheds. Some of the species that are found there are: sage grouse, elk, mule deer, antelope, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, various songbirds, rabbits, coyotes and many more.