Even though we had some water relief in 2016, what will 2017 bring? It's anyone's guess at this point, early storm in the Sierra are promising but we need so much more to make up for the several dry years. We are still in a drought and the water outlook for 2017 is up in the air - literally! Come on snow!
The Truckee-Carson Irrigation District water delivery season runs from April to September, in a normal water year. The refuge receives residual flows during the Fall from water remaining in delivery canals. Refuge water flows South to North as elevation drops.
For the most part, Stillwater NWR saw a positive impact on wildlife, migratory birds and public use with the additional water in 2016. Sanctuary wetlands south of Division Rd. held water for migrating shorebirds, waders and waterfowl in Fall and Winter.
In the hunt area, Goose Lake and South Nutgrass lakes were full, and remain open for waterfowl hunting. These units are most easily reached by Division Road, north on Nutgrass Rd. to Navy Cabin Road then west to the signed units on either side of the road. Parking is in designated pullouts, boat launch areas or along the road as long as two wheels remain on the road and a clear lane of travel is open for others to pass. Use caution on or near iced ponds, as freezing and thawing makes walking in heavy gear very dangerous.
All boat types are allowed in Goose and S. Nutgrass lakes during waterfowl season. Airboat use requires a special use permit, available at no cost from the refuge office in Fallon. Check conditions prior to launch and use caution when operating in the dark. For more information on boating, water and other conditions in the hunt area, call 775/423-5128 ext. 228 Mon - Sat.
Wildlife-dependent recreation permitted at Stillwater NWR includes: wildlife observation, hunting (in season), environmental education, interpretation and photography. Please remember that Wildlife Comes First on a refuge, so if your actions cause animals to move, sound alarms or change their behavior, then you are creating a disturbance and should move away or modify your actions. Wildlife harassment is harmful and illegal.
Click this link for the Great Basin drought monitoring website, which has lots of other links for water and drought information. Another good site with information is the Great Basin water network Nevada drought forum. Finally, the NRCS in Nevada posts historical records of water and snowpack across the state.
The link below (Learn More) shows the most current map of refuge wetlands. Water will flow north of Division Road into the Goose Lake unit, within the refuge hunt area. Click here for the latest updates on water levels and flows within Stillwater NWR.