The Worthington Mountains Wilderness, protected by Congress in 2004, encompasses most of that range and is home to a great cave system – carved tubular limestone chambers, side channels, wet areas with “drippy” formations and rim pools filled with water. One section is a sinkhole—a really huge one—earning it the name Leviathan Cave. Hiking to the cave is rugged, and people then down climb or use ropes to rappel the 15 or so vertical feet to go in and explore it.
The nearest paved highway is about 15 miles to the south and the nearest town, Alamo, is 38 miles southeast. And due east of this mountain range’s “chaotic topography,” lies Garden Valley and Coal Valleys—two of the Great Basin’s best and beautiful places of vast “remoteness.”
Nevadans are working with members of Congress and the Administration to find a way to protect this basin and range. Connecting—or linking—mountains and valleys for conservation is important, and it is increasingly difficult to accomplish. Valleys fill up… with highways, cities, industry. Garden and Coal valleys are rare examples of undeveloped public lands in America’s Great Basin, full of sage-brush animals, unusual birds, and 16 species of bats—some of which count on the Leviathan Cave for habitat.
It’s an opportunity to keep high elevation ecosystems, like the Worthington Range (pdf) and Leviathan Cave, connected to their neighboring valleys. These are linked landscapes where all kinds of wildlife, including herd animals like pronghorn and deer, are able to move freely between their full winter and summer ranges, to high- and lower-elevation habitats. Protect Basin and Range is a new campaign to do just that, to protect a complex and intact ecosystem and all its “stark beauty.”