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National Wetlands Inventory

Wetlands Restoration Boosts Recovery of Rare Mammal

Landowner, Susan Sorrells.  
Susan Sorrells. Credit USFWS  

On the edge of Death Valley, one of the most inhospitable environments in the U.S., a private landowner, Susan Sorrells, has spent more than a decade working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore rare wetlands for native wildlife, including the endangered Amargosa vole. A portion of the 185-mile long Amargosa River flows through the small town of Shoshone, California. This segment of the river flows year-round because groundwater from a deep aquifer seeps through bedrock close to the surface.

It is in this unique environment that Sorrells has worked with the Service and other partners to create marsh habitat, featuring native bulrush, that the federally endangered Amargosa vole requires for feeding, breeding and sheltering. The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program provided financial and technical assistance for habitat restoration and enhancement projects on Sorrells's land. Through the Ecological Services Program, the Palm Springs Fish and Wildlife Office recently approved a Safe Harbor Agreement for Sorrells that will cover the reintroduction of voles to this restored habitat over the next 30 years.

Fewer than 500 Amargosa voles are known to exist. They diverged from other vole species more than 10,000 years ago and rely on the rare desert wetlands for survival.


Left to Right: Service employee holds an Amargosa vole. Amargosa River: Bob Wick/BLM. Service employee holds two Amargosa voles.