Ash Meadows NationalWildlife Refuge
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), established in June of 1984 with the assistance of The Nature Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management, is located approximately 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas in the Amargosa valley of southern Nye County, Nevada. To date, 22,117 acres of spring-fed wetlands and alkaline desert uplands are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge area provides habitat for at least 24 plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Four fishes and one plant are currently listed as endangered.
This concentration of indigenous life distinguishes Ash Meadows NWR as having a greater concentration of endemic species than any other local area in the United States, and the second greatest in all of North America. Ash Meadows provides a valuable and unprecedented example of desert oases that are now extremely uncommon in the southwestern United States.
The refuge is a major discharge point for a vast underground water system stretching 100 miles to the northeast. Nearly all of the water at Ash Meadows is “fossil” water, believed to have entered the ground water system thousands of years ago. Water-bearing strata comes to the surface in more than 30 seeps and springs, providing a rich and complex variety of habitats. North and west are the remnants of Carson Slough which was drained and mined for its peat in the 1960’s. Sandy dunes appear in the central part of the refuge. Many stream channels and wetlands are scattered throughout the area. Mesquite and ash tree groves flourish near the wetlands, and saltbush and creosote shrubs grow in the drier upland soils.
Restoration in Progress
The refuge is in the habitat restoration stage and will remain so for many years. Stream channels diverted into concrete irrigation ditches will be returned to their natural courses. Nonnative plants and animals, such as introduced saltcedar trees and crayfish, will be removed to allow native plants and animals to thrive without competition. These measures will aid the return of wildlife to historic wetlands like Carson Slough.
In addition to habitat restoration, the refuge plans to install interpretive facilities for public enjoyment at several sites. Trails, for example, will be developed to interpret the unique springs, fish and wildlife found on the refuge. Environmental education programs are currently available with advance notice.
For further information, contact:
- Refuge Manager, Ash Meadows NWR
- PO Box 2660
- Pahrump, Nevada 89041
- Phone: (702) 372-5435