As part of DU’s March 2014 North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant award for wetland conservation work for the Lahontan Valley – Western Nevada region, DU completed a water conveyance improvement project at Carson Lake and Pasture (CL&P) in fall 2014. This project improved portions of the three-mile long Rice Drain which will improve NDOW’s ability to deliver habitat management water to over 2,700 acres of wetlands in the Rice, Big Water, and York units. The work included installing two new water control structures (WCS), constructing an in-line canal weir, rebuilding several thousand feet of ditch bank, improving the ditch flow line, and removing vegetation that impeded water flow.
A companion project is now in the works at CL&P to enhance wetlands in the Sprig Pond Unit by improving the Cabin Drain which delivers water to Sprig Pond. This entails cleaning the drain for the first time in over 30 years and installing a new WCS that will improve water delivery to portions of the unit. Project partners for this work include NDOW, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, DU-Nevada, Greenhead Club, and Bureau of Reclamation. Project construction is anticipated for fall 2015.
In light of the current drought and very limited wetland water supply, projects such as this are critical to helping improve NDOW’s ability to deliver its available water and improve habitat that is vital to spring migrating waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway, as well as those which use CL&P’s wetlands for breeding and molting, along with returning fall migrants. Key waterfowl species that will benefit include Wrangel Island snow geese, northern pintail, mallard, redhead, cinnamon and green-winged teal, and northern shoveler.