Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
RUBY LAKE NWR: Service Partners With Ducks Unlimited to Complete $1 Million Habitat Project at Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada
California-Nevada Offices , January 7, 2011
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South Marsh at Ruby Lake NWR. (photo: USFWS)
South Marsh at Ruby Lake NWR. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

ELKO, Nevada -- Ducks Unlimited, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, recently completed a $1.2 million wetland enhancement effort at the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Nevada.

The expansive Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge lies at the eastern foot of the towering Ruby Mountains in northeast Nevada and is one of the most remote Wildlife Refuges in the contiguous United States.  The refuge is also one of the most significant wetland areas in Nevada.  More than 200 springs on the refuge hydrate its vast marsh, making it an oasis for waterfowl and other wildlife, especially during drought years when most wetlands in Nevada are dry.  Throughout the year, the refuge supports 15 species of waterfowl and a wide variety of other wetland-dependent species, including one of world’s densest concentrations of nesting canvasback ducks; the highest nesting density of greater sandhill cranes in northeastern Nevada; and the most significant black tern nesting population in Nevada. Upward of 40 trumpeter swans winter at the refuge.  .

“Nevada is a vast, dry landscape punctuated by a few impressive wetland complexes,” said Jeff McCreary, a biologist and manager of conservation programs at DU’s Western Regional Office in Sacramento, Calif.   “Ruby Lake is part of a collection of Great Basin wetlands that not only provide important habitat for waterfowl, but also important recreational opportunities for Nevadans.” 

The refuge’s importance to waterfowl and other wildlife was the basis for the project, which   enhances 1,755 acres of nesting, feeding and loafing habitat in the refuge’s East Marsh by rebuilding a levee and replacing many of the refuge’s original water control structures important for proper management of another 4,245 acres of marsh habitat.  Refuge water management infrastructure had deteriorated to a point close to complete failure, threatening to reduce both the availability and quality of its wetland habitats.

The project also improved 7,300 acres of waterfowl and waterbird nesting habitat in the refuge’s South Marsh by increasing water management capabilities and controlling overgrown vegetation. Limited water control out of the South Marsh reduced and eliminated much of the once high quality nesting habitat for diving ducks by encouraging overgrowth of hardstem bulrush.  This limited water control also resulted in “washing” out diving duck nests when South Marsh water levels rose too rapidly for the old water control structures. 

“This project provides tremendous benefits for wildlife and people,” said Refuge Biologist Jeff Mackay.  “Wildlife will gain habitat and resources critical to the success and growth of their populations, while the citizens of Nevada gain a variety of recreational benefits. The partnership for this project was a diverse group that made this multi-phase, multi-year undertaking possible.”

This public-private partnership also included significant financial and in-kind contributions from other partners including the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Intermountain West Joint Venture, the Nevada Waterfowl Association, Wildlife and Habitat Improvement of Nevada, Syngenta and Dow AgroSciences.

More information is available on refuge website at www.fws.gov/rubylake or contact Jeff McCreary at Ducks Unlimited, Inc., jmccreary@ducks.org or Jeff Mackay at jeff_mackay@fws.gov.

Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 550 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 fish and wildlife management offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

For more information about Service activities in California and Nevada visit http://www.fws.gov/cno .  


Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov
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