PROJECT UPDATE: Carson Lake and Pasture Wetland Enhancement Habitat (Nev.)

In fall of 2014, DU’s Western Regional Office (WRO), working cooperatively with Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), constructed a NAWCA-funded project at Carson Lake and Pasture (CL&P) in the Lahontan Valley/Carson Sink in western Nevada. The CL&P tract supports 30,000 acres of wetlands and wet meadow habitat. Wetlands on CL&P and nearby Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge form the core of the Lahontan Valley wetlands and support the majority of the waterfowl, shorebird, and waterbird use in this continentally important area. CL&P is owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management but is managed by NDOW through a cooperative use agreement.

The completed work has improved portions of the three-mile long Rice Drain which will improve NDOW’s ability to deliver habitat management water to the Rice, Big Water, and York units. The work included installing two new water control structures, constructing an in-line canal weir, improving the ditch flow line, and removing vegetation that impeded water flow. This work provides NDOW with improved habitat management capabilities for 2,700 acres of managed wetlands. In light of the current drought and very limited 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. Waterbirds including white-faced ibis and Forster’s tern and shorebirds including American avocets, black-necked stilt, longbilled dowitcher, and Wilson’s phalarope will also benefit.

This is the first of eleven NAWCA-funded projects to be delivered in the WRO’s first ever NAWCA grant for the Lahontan Valley area. Other upcoming NAWCA projects include work at Stillwater NWR, NDOW’s Mason Valley Wildlife Management Area, the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribal Wetlands, and Carson City Open Space. At CL&P, Ducks Unlimited is also working cooperatively on a new project with National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and NDOW to improve water conveyance to 1,200 acres of seasonal wetlands at the Sprig Pond Unit.