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Volunteer Adopts a Spring at Ash Meadows Refuge

Volunteer Hal Fairfield is up to his neck in cattails on Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, NV, where he is restoring a spring that is vital to the endangered Warm Springs pupfish.
Photo Credit: USFWS
Ash Meadows in Nevada has been through a lot over the years – ranching, farming, peat mining, raising aquarium fish, even sporting a brothel at one time.  In 1984, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge was established in the Amargosa Valley, about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The refuge includes 23,000 acres of spring-fed wetlands and desert uplands – but many of the springs were long ago pumped bone dry.

Restoring the wetland habitat involved creating winding stream channels where they had dried up, removing invasive species and planting native grasses and trees along the stream banks.
The refuge began holding Stewardship Saturdays when volunteers pulled cattails, planted native species and pulled weeds to help restore the springs.

Hal Fairfield kept signing up for cattail cutting events – but not showing up. It turned out he was caring for his ailing mother and frequently had to change his plans to be with her. “But don’t give up on me,” he told refuge visitor services specialist Cyndi Souza.

One day he mentioned his interest in one particular spring. That was the first step in the refuge’s 'Adopt-a-Spring' program.  Fairfield developed a plan of action with refuge biologists and eventually he was able to spend more time actually working on the spring.

“At our volunteer luncheon in 2012,” says Souza, “I was so proud to give Hal a volunteer award.  Since 2011 he has logged over 550 hours of volunteer time and he has to drive one hour just to get here.  So that is a two hour commute.  Talk about dedication.  I told his story at the luncheon and I concluded it with ‘We never gave up on Hal but most importantly he never gave up on us.’”

Warm Springs
This pool is home to the Warm Springs pupfish.
Photo Credit: Cyndi Souza/USFWS
Warm Springs Pupfish
The endangered Warm Springs pupfish lives in a one square kilometer area of Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, NV
Photo Credit: USGS

Last updated: October 10, 2012
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