The Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex
Pacific Southwest Region

Desert Terminal Lakes Program Walker Lake

The Walker River Basin is the third-largest watershed in Western Nevada, encompassing 3940 square miles, making it more than twice the size of Rhode Island. The steady decline of Walker Lake’s water level over the last century resulted in dramatic increases in salinity in the lake, severely impacting the lake’s ecosystem. In 2002, congress enacted the Desert Terminal Lakes Program, (Public Law 107-171), to improve conditions for “at risk” lakes such as Walker. Since 2002, several laws have been enacted to provide funding and technical support to improve the health of the Walker Basin’s ecosystem. All photos on this page are courtesy of the USFWS

In 2005 Public Law 109-103 passed Congress and provided funds for purchase of water rights for Walker Lake, eradication of the invasive tamarisk (salt cedar), restoration of near-river plant communities, and channel restoration within the Walker River Basin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Walker River Paiute Tribe, and the Nevada Department of Wildlife received funds to implement a Fishery Improvement Plan for the Walker River Basin.

In 2007 Public Law 110-161 provided funds to the Fish and Wildlife Service to analyze the impacts of low water flows on fish reproduction at Walker Lake. The law allocated funds to the State of Nevada to prepare watershed inventories for the Walker and Carson River Basins and to the Walker River Irrigation District to plan and implement a weed control program as well as improve conveyance efficiency of water controlled by the Irrigation District and to improve their water gauges to enhance the water monitoring activities.

2008 Public Law 110-234 appropriated further funds to “provide water to at-risk natural desert terminal lakes.
2009 Public Law 111-8 allocated DTLP funding for LIDAR acquisition data and migratory loon assessment.
2009 Public Law 111-85 created the Walker Basin Restoration Program, administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, to develop a voluntary water rights acquisition program and fund Walker Basin research, and the U.S. Geological Survey Walker River Basin water monitoring program

For more information on the Desert Terminal Lakes Program, visit the following websites: external link external link


Last updated: April 22, 2015