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 4, water users received about 20% of their annual allotments, and water deliveries ended for the season. For Stillwater NWR, about 3000 acre-feet of water was delivered to the refuge sanctuary wetlands south of Division Road. With summer evaporative loss, these ponds will be dry by early Fall. (View refuge wetland water levels here). This will have an impact on wildlife, migratory birds and public use of the refuge. How severe, we don't know. Keep checking this site for updated information on decisions that may affect public use of the refuge.
Please be aware 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 any sick or dead birds near water, please notify refuge authorities immediately at 775/423-5128 or 775-423-3171. 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. Do not handle any sick or dead birds, but note location for refuge staff.
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. An excellent forecast for Winter 2015-2016 in the Sierra is available through the National Weather Service, Reno NV office.