The Virginia Range is a high desert mountainous area in western Nevada that encompasses most of Storey County and parcels of both Washoe and Lyon Counties. It is the home of approximately 2,000 wild horses which for legal purposes are called Estray by the State of Nevada. These horses are the original mustangs made famous by Wild Horse Annie in her quest to protect the wild horses of America. Sadly, because they lived on land that had largely become privately owned, they were denied protection by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) when the Wild Horse Act became law in 1971. They are presently managed by the State of Nevada Agriculture Department which is in the process of approving an agreement with non-profit horse specialists for their on-range management.

This area of Nevada also supports a wide diversity of other wildlife including puma, bobcats, mule deer, and several threatened species of native birds. Their welfare and their successful survival are critically important to the survival of the mustangs in this range.

Because this land is nearly all privately owned, it could be developed at any time. The development of just a few critical parcels would severely compromise the safety and health of all the animals that have occupied this range for centuries. At present, this land is 99 percent undeveloped.

Recently, these animals and plants have been recognized for their value in the development of an ecotourism industry. It is likely that in the near future their value to the State for tourism will become a significant force in improving Nevada’s economy.

Thus, for all these reasons, and especially the welfare of the animals, the Virginia Range is considered to be a unique natural resource for western Nevada. This resource must be protected for the enjoyment of all Nevadans and our visitors.

The mission of the Foundation will be to protect and preserve these animals and their habitat, improve and restore habitat that has been degraded by fire or other man-caused disruptions, quantify all the natural resources and their interdependence that defines this ecosystem so that successful preservation of a natural balance continues, and finally to introduce to the people of Nevada and the world the wonderful natural world of the Virginia Range.

To successfully accomplish this mission, significant acreage of now private land will be acquired via purchase or conservation easements to form the nucleus of the Foundation’s efforts. All other landowners will be contacted and encouraged to work with the Foundation to keep their land available to the wildlife. Additionally, the Foundation will establish relationships and work closely with County and State agencies. The creation of this kind of teamwork is essential to guarantee that this unique ecosystem becomes a destination for both Nevadans and ecotourism patrons.