August 23, 2023

Cortez Masto, Rosen Urge Biden Administration to Protect Nevada’s Ruby Mountains

Winnemucca, Nev. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) are calling on the Biden administration to prohibit oil and gas leasing in the Ruby Mountains and the neighboring Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, also referred to as the “Ruby Marshes.” In a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the senators urged the administration to formally withdraw approximately 350,000 acres in Northern Nevada’s Ruby Mountains and Ruby Marshes from mineral leasing. They have both advocated for this change in Senator Cortez Masto’s Ruby Mountains Protection Act due to the area’s cultural, ecological, and economic importance and its low potential for oil and gas development, and she will continue to push for passage of her bill to ensure these changes cannot be undone by a future administration.

“Nevada is home to many special landscapes and one of the most unique is the Ruby Mountains in Northern Nevada, often referred to as ‘Nevada’s Swiss Alps.’ These lands are the ancestral homeland of the Te-Moak Tribe of the Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada and are beloved by hunters, anglers, birdwatchers, and other recreationists who travel from across the state and beyond to enjoy the area,” wrote the senators.

“Although the area encompassed in this request is largely classified as having no or low potential for oil and gas, expressions of interest for energy leasing have often been filed in the region,” they continued. “In response to this threat, there is widespread support for protecting this landscape, including support from the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada, national and regional conservation organizations, and a coalition of several national and local sporting groups.”

“It is imperative that the Ruby Mountains and the Ruby Marshes receive a higher level of protection to further safeguard these remarkable public spaces from development, and we strongly urge you to expedite the withdrawal of these areas from oil and gas leasing,” they concluded.

“Every year, outdoor recreationists visiting the Ruby Mountains contribute to the overall 50,563 jobs and $4.9 billion dollars Nevada's outdoor recreation economy provides our state. This landscape is also home to Nevada's largest deer herd,” said Russell Kuhlman, Executive Director of the Nevada Wildlife Federation. “Withdrawing the Ruby Mountains from oil and gas exploration will help ensure future generations are able to experience one of Nevada's crown jewels and its wildlife.”

“We strongly urge the Biden Administration to recognize the invaluable benefits of granting an Administrative Withdrawal for the Ruby Mountains,” said Mandi Elliott, Executive Director, Nevada Outdoor Business Coalition. “This isn't just about conserving nature; it's about acknowledging the strong connection between the protection of our public lands and the vitality of our local economies. Rural Nevada, more than many realize, relies on the health and accessibility of these lands. Beyond the conservation and economic implications, this decision would also lead to a more effective and strategic use of human resources at the Ruby Mountains, ensuring that those teams can focus on sustainable management and community engagement. As the Executive Director of the Nevada Outdoor Business Coalition, I've seen the potential for prosperity that comes with safeguarding our natural assets.”

“Duka-doya, our name for this region, has been central to our people since time immemorial,” said Joe Holley, Chairman of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians. “Providing immediate protections from oil and gas exploration will ensure the continuation of our culture, religion, history, and society in this crucial and sacred landscape.”

"The Ruby Mountains and the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge are among the most beautiful and treasured areas in all of Nevada," said Larry Johnson, President of the Coalition for Nevada's Wildlife. "This Proclamation would protect this invaluable area from the frivolous attempts of oil and gas leasing that has occurred in the past. We cannot thank Senator Masto sufficiently for her efforts on  behalf of all Nevadans." 

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen have been champions for Nevada’s great outdoor spaces and public lands. They passed critical legislation to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which protects public lands in Nevada and across the U.S. Cortez Masto introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to restore Lake Tahoe, which Rosen supported, and both senators delivered critical funding to protect Lake Tahoe in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Cortez Masto and Rosen also helped pass the historic Great American Outdoors Act, which was signed into law and provides robust funding to preserve and maintain public lands across the country.