Nevada is in a fourth consecutive year of extreme drought in 2015, and Stillwater NWR - and all water users in the Lahontan Valley - had a very limited water delivery from the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District. As of July, water users received about 20% of their annual allotments, and water deliveries are done for the season. For Stillwater NWR, this means about 3000 acre-feet of water total were ordered, with all flowing to the refuge sanctuary wetlands south of Division Road. With evaporative loss in the hot summer months arriving, there is a high likelihood these ponds will be dry by early Fall. This will have an impact on wildlife, migratory birds and public use of the refuge. We will keep you informed as decisions are made that may affect public use.
Please be aware of Refuge conditions before traveling; you may see fish, wildlife or birds in distress due to drought conditions and for the most part, there will be nothing that can be done. If you notice unusually large numbers of sick or dead waterbirds, please notify refuge authorities immediately at 775/423-5128. Low water levels and high temperatures can create prime conditions for water-borne disease and refuge staff will be closely monitoring all wetlands and wildlife this season.
Wildlife-dependent recreation appropriate for and permitted at Stillwater NWR includes: wildlife observation, hunting, environmental education, interpretation and photography. Even though the drought may impact your visit, there is still much to observe and learn from this wild place. You will get a chance to observe how the web of life adapts and changes to these extremes. Nature has a way of figuring things out.
The link below shows a map of current refuge wetlands. Updates will be posted during the season as conditions change. View the latest refuge water levels here.