Nevada is entering into a fourth consecutive year of extreme drought in 2015, and Stillwater NWR - and all water users in the Lahontan Valley - are preparing for very limited water deliveries from the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District. As of April, water users will receive 20% or less of their annual allotments, and all deliveries must be completed by June. For Stillwater NWR, this means about 3000 acre-feet of water total will be ordered, and it will go to the refuge sanctuary wetlands south of Division Road. With evaporative loss in the hot summer months of July and August, there is a likely chance that even these ponds will go dry by Fall. Obviously this will have a tremendous impact on wildlife, migratory birds and public use of the refuge.
Please be aware of the conditions before travelling to the refuge this spring and summer; you may see fish, wildlife or birds in distress due to the conditions and for the most part, there will be nothing that can be done. If you notice unusually large numbers of sick or dead birds, 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 is the most current map showing status of refuge wetlands. Updates will be posted during the season as conditions change.