More About the Refuge
Springs National Wildlife Refuge is one of the over 550 refuges in the National
Wildlife Refuge System - a network of lands set aside and managed by the U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service specifically for wildlife. Fish Springs NWR was
established using proceeds from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps. Ninety-eight
cents out of every dollar generated by the sale of Federal Duck Stamps go
directly to the purchase or lease of wetlands habitat for protection in the
Springs NWR was established in 1959 to provide habitat for migratory bird
management within the Pacific Flyway. Approximately 10,000 acres of its 17,992
total acres are wetlands. Refuge waters are supplied by spring flows that arise
under artesian pressure and hydrothermal convection along fracture zones in the
Great Basin Carbonate Rock and Alluvial Aquifer. Refuge measurements indicate
the springs discharge approximately 22,000 – 27,000 acre-feet per year, most of
which is recharged from areas outside the Fish Springs Flat.
The Refuge provides
managed wetland habitats for a diversity of species, with priority given to a
variety of migratory birds, including wading birds, shorebirds, and waterfowl, as
well as to species at risk of becoming listed as federally endangered. You will find exciting birding opportunities
at this Refuge year round. Spring and fall migrations provide peak numbers of
shorebirds, waterfowl, and many land birds. During the breeding season, you can
easily spot nesting colonies of black-crowned night heron, white-faced ibis,
great blue heron, and snowy egret.
Winter highlights often include tundra swan, numerous ducks, raptors,
and the secretive American bittern. More
than 290 bird species have been recorded on the Refuge.
Fish Springs and the area
also provide a rich cultural history prior to Refuge establishment. The year
round water supply at Fish Springs made it an important stopping point for the
Pony Express, Central Overland Stage Route, and Lincoln Highway. Historical
markers can be found along the present day Pony Express Route and within the
Refuge. The Refuge’s auto tour route, open during daylight hours, allows you to
observe wildlife in desert uplands, wet meadows, marshlands, and open waters.
Early morning and late afternoon are ideal times to view wildlife and take
pictures. Whether you are a birder, a photographer, a waterfowl hunter, a
student of the natural environment or share interest in the cultural history of
the area, Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to visit.