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NEVADA: UNLV students spend their spring break restoring habitat on the Desert NWR
California-Nevada Offices , April 4, 2014
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UNLV students pause for a group photo. (L to R) Thomas Valencia, Rebecca Roman, Daphnie Churchill, Natasha Kotte, Andrea Zavala, and Jackson Nightshade. In the rear is Katie Ressie, the group's chaperon.
UNLV students pause for a group photo. (L to R) Thomas Valencia, Rebecca Roman, Daphnie Churchill, Natasha Kotte, Andrea Zavala, and Jackson Nightshade. In the rear is Katie Ressie, the group's chaperon. - Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Friends of Nevada Wilderness
Students and volunteers strike a pose before they carry debris from an old guzzler out of the Sheep Mountains.
Students and volunteers strike a pose before they carry debris from an old guzzler out of the Sheep Mountains. - Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Friends of Nevada Wilderness
Planting native vegetation on the Desert NWR was one of the jobs the UNLV students performed during the 2014 Alternative Spring Break.
Planting native vegetation on the Desert NWR was one of the jobs the UNLV students performed during the 2014 Alternative Spring Break. - Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Friends of Nevada Wilderness

By Daniel Balduini

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with Friends of Nevada Wilderness, conducted the 4th Annual Alternative Spring Break the week of March 17, 2014. The volunteer and educational program took place on the Desert National Wildlife Refuge and included students from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

Six UNLV students and their chaperon, along with Service staff and volunteers, spent four days and four nights on the wildlife refuge working on various habitat restoration projects. Sponsoring organizations included the Friends of Desert Wildlife Refuges, the Outside Las Vegas Foundation, and REI.

The students and volunteers planted 26 mesquite trees in riparian habitat, returned a quarter-mile-long illegal road to a more natural state, closed off access to a second illegal road, collected 15 cubic yards of trash and hiked out with the remnants of an old water guzzler no longer in use.

The Las Vegas and Sheep Mountain Ranges provided the setting for the work and the first camping trip for many of the students. They gained hands-on experience in the management and restoration of desert landscapes, which translates into practical experience on their resumes. Guest speakers from UNLV, the College of Southern Nevada, and the State of Nevada traveled each night to the refuge to lecture on various related topics, including the plant life zones occurring on the wildlife refuge, climate change, and the effects of solar radiation on plant distribution in the Sheep and Spring Mountains.

“Being in the desert with such passionate people is something amazing,” said UNLV student Natasha Kotte. “I feel more grounded — we’re doing things that make a difference.” Kotte is currently studying biochemistry at UNLV and looking forward to a career in water purification and filtration.

Dan is the public affairs officer at the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office in Las Vegas, Nevada.


Contact Info: Daniel Balduini, 702-515-5480, daniel_balduini@fws.gov



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