The Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex
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Walker Basin Home PageWalker Lake


This website provides updates on the programs that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is managing in the Walker Basin under the Desert Terminal Lakes Program (DTLP). All photos on this page are courtesy of the USFWS

River ChannelThe Walker Basin is home to fish, wildlife, ranchers, and farmers.  But balancing the needs of each of these users is a challenge, both environmentally and economically.

The Service has two programs under the DTLP designed to help reach a balance among these multiple users.

The River Restoration program focuses on improving river function, while the Fishery Improvement Program focuses on enhancing the lake’s ecosystem and native fishery.

The Service is collaborating with multiple partners on these two programs to improve river function, restore habitat, increase water quality and quantity, and restore Walker Lake to a healthy ecosystem that will better support native fish and wildlife.

Rosachi ranchFortunately portions of the Walker River remain biologistsundisturbed and provides habitat for the native wildlife.  Open space along the river provides great opportunities for recreational uses like fishing, camping and hunting. 

We look forward to working with all interested parties to address issues related to the basin’s ecosystem to benefit all who depend on the river and lake for their life or livelihood.




Brief History of Walker LakeBasin map

Walker Lake is a terminal, saline lake that is a remnant of Pleistocene Lake Lahontan. Lake Lahontan was a large inland, freshwater sea that once covered much of western and northern Nevada.

Snow pack from the Eastern Sierra Mountains is the main source of water for the Walker River and Lake.

Walker LakeNamed after Joseph Walker, a guide on the 1845 John Fremont expedition, Walker Lake is defined as a terminal lake because it has no outlet. Water flowing into Walker Lake only exits by evaporation, leaving behind naturally occurring salts that increase as the water level declines.

Walker Lake historically supported populations of native fish, including tui chub, Tahoe sucker, Lahontan redside, speckled dace, and a thriving, naturally reproducing population of large Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT).

In 1885 a significant commercial fishery existed for LCT, as witnessed by Indian Agent W.D.C. Gibson who reported that the lake “abounded with trout.”

However, water levels have dropped over 150 feet in the past 100 years, resulting in an increase of total dissolved solids (TDS) or salts that threaten the lake’s ecosystem, including the native wildlife, LCT and its fishery.

FWalker Lake past and present water levelsor more information on Walker River and Angler catching a fishWalker Lake, visit these sites: external link external link

A more detailed chronology and explanation of water laws can be found on the Chronology of the Walker Basin, Water Law & Historical Trivia page.
Last updated: March 10, 2010