As I made my way across Nevada at the end of April, signs of the continuing drought persisted each and every westward mile. From parched reservoirs to dust clouds rising thousands of feet from the desert floor, I could see the stark impacts of the lack of water manifesting on the rugged Nevada landscape.
About 65 miles north of my destination of Fallon, Nev., I stopped by Humboldt Wildlife Management Area (WMA), a property managed by the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) that historically has provided an oasis of shorebird habitat in the desert. The scene I observed was otherworldly: not a drop of water, and a massive dust cloud.
I continued my journey down to Fallon, where I would spend the next week with Audubon’s on-the-ground partners who manage habitat within the Lahontan Valley Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site. For the past year, Audubon has collaborated with US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) staff at Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and NDOW staff at Carson Lake WMA to enhance habitat and water management to benefit shorebirds.
Carson Lake and Pasture was transferred last year from U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to the State of Nevada. In addition to agency partners, chapter volunteers from Lahontan Audubon Society (LAS) have worked with Audubon, USFWS and NDOW in building knowledge of shorebird usage at the sites.
During my visit, I interviewed Mike Goddard and Jonathan Garrison about their work in Lahontan Valley, and the challenges resource managers are facing in light of the ongoing drought. Mike Goddard was the Stillwater NWR manager from 2000-2012, and since his retirement he has been an active Board Trustee and part of the Education Committee for LAS. Jonathan Garrison is the current Wildlife Refuge Specialist for the Stillwater NWR Complex.
Lead Image: Dunlins. Photo: Annalise Kaylor/Audubon Photography Awards.
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