Nevada's only national park encompasses 77,000 acres on the remote central eastern edge of the state. The park contains the entire range of ecosystems found within the Great Basin. Main attractions include the Snake Range, with thirteen peaks rising over 11,000 feet; a stand of bristlecone pines—the oldest living things on earth, having survived 3,000 to 4,000 years; and the Lehman Caves, formed from quartzite limestone.
The federal government established the park in 1986 after heavy lobbying from the state to help support the depressed economy of White Pine County following the decline of copper mining. A few conservationists, including William Penn Mott, Jr., who later became director of the National Park Service, initiated efforts to establish a park in the 1920s, when the caves were designated a National Monument. Over the next six decades mining and ranching interests stymied these efforts because of the fear that such a designation would prohibit those uses of the land. Only a severe economic depression swayed local opinion; the park's boundaries, however, were drawn to exclude private mining land. The National Park Service has kept grazing permits in force but is monitoring the environmental effects of ranching.
The tiny town of Baker stands at the entrance to the park. On the main road nearby is a U.S. Forest Service ranger station, built in the mid-1930s to supervise part of the Humboldt National Forest, now contained within the park. The Civilian Conservation Corps erected the buildings, following the standardized plans also used at the Paradise Valley ranger station ( NO34), north of Winnemucca.
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