Brian O’Donnell, executive director of the Conservation Lands Foundation, said the area provides habitat for mule deer and Pronghorn antelope, and contains Native American rock shelters and ancient Shoshone and Paiute trails. The withdrawal area includes the White River Narrows, an archaeological district of native rock art.
“When you think of unspoiled basin and range country, this is a place that best fits that description,” O’Donnell said. “These are two of the most scenic valleys in Nevada, two of the most undisturbed, least-roaded, and least populated portions of the state and therefore the country.”
“City” is Heizer’s lifelong project on private land he acquired about 160 miles northwest of Las Vegas, and about 55 miles west of Pioche. A mile and a half long and 900 feet wide, it comprises five major segments and numerous complexes within each one, made mostly of earth, rocks and concrete and inspired by Native American mound builders and ancient cities of South and Central America. An art critic once described it as “geometric depressions, mounds and plazas linked by unpaved roads.”
“It is perhaps one of the greatest, most ambitious artworks ever attempted,” said Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art who has helped Heizer seek support for the project. Unlike traditional art and sculpture, people will have to wander through “City” — like they would a real city — to take it all in, he said.
“City” is not open to the public, but Govan said it will be when it is done. He said Heizer is working on final engineering and conservation plans, as the piece is meant to last thousands of years.
In 2005, New York Times Magazine profiled Heizer as "Arts Last Lonely Cowboy" behind "City" and wrote:
But picture a sculpture the size of the Washington Mall, nearly from the steps of the Capitol to the Washington Monument, swallowing many of the museums on either side. That's how big it is. Only once you're inside do you see all the mounds, pits, passageways, plazas, ramps and terraced dirt, most of the sculpture having been dug below ground level, masked from outside by berms. The shapes echo the mountains. ''I'm not selling the view,'' Heizer contradicts when I mention this. ''You can't even see the landscape unless you're standing at the edge of the sculpture.'' True. Even so, the echoes are plain as day.
'City,'' in its vastness, was meant to synthesize ancient monuments, Minimalism and industrial technology. The work derived inspiration from Mississippian tumuli (ancient North American mounds), the ball court at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan and La Venta in southern Tabasco, where his father, a prominent anthropologist and archaeologist, had excavated. At the same time, it suggested airport runways and Modernist architecture