National Wildlife Refuge System

Scenic Views at Salt Creek Wilderness Area Scenic Views at Salt Creek Wilderness Area Scenic Views at Salt Creek Wilderness Area Scenic Views at Salt Creek Wilderness Area

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge - Salt Creek Wilderness

Air Quality Related Values

An Air Quality Related Value (AQRV) is a resource, as identified by the Federal Land Manager, for one or more federal areas, that may be adversely affected by a change in air quality. The resource may include visibility or a specific scenic, cultural, physical, biological, ecological, or recreational resource identified by the Federal Land Manager for a particular area.


Aquatic Resources

Water quality is affected by pollutants in rainfall and is considered to be a sensitive AQRV. The aquatic resources such as native fish, invertebrates and amphibians, associated with these areas are considered AQRVs because they are sensitive to pollutants deposited from the atmosphere. These pollutants include sulfur, nitrogen, mercury and other toxins. Although the Salt Creek Wilderness contains river bottomlands, there is a shortage of water in the region and no studies have been conducted focusing water quality. Further research on the refuge is required to determine if and to what extent water pollution is occurring.



The Bitter Lake Refuge provides important breeding grounds and stopover areas for migratory birds. Species that use the refuge include the mallard, widgeon, pintail, and ruddy ducks, geese, snowy egrets, pelicans, and sandhill cranes. In the uplands, roadrunners, scaled quail, ring-necked pheasant, desert cottontails, black-tailed jackrabbits, mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, and badgers are present. The Salt Creek Wilderness Area is home to the bald eagle which is afforded special protection under the Bald & Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940. Virtually no waterfowl or waterbirds use Salt Creek Wilderness because it is devoid of wetlands and contains a river and a dozen sinkholes. Two or three of the sinkholes contain rare fish – Pecos gambusia, which is endangered and the Pecos pupfish, a species of concern.

These birds and wildlife are considered sensitive AQRVs, since they may be affected by air pollution. Air pollution may cause habitat degradation indirectly affecting these AQRVs. In addition air pollution may directly affect atmospheric deposition of pollutants such as mercury, nitrates, sulfates, and other toxics.



The susceptibility of soils to pollutant deposition has not been investigated in the Salt Creek Wilderness.



Field surveys have documented ozone injury on a number of plant species in the Salt Creek Wilderness. These affected plant species are sensitive AQRV's.

The following links detail plant species sensitive to ozone.



Visibility is monitored in Salt Creek Wilderness Area. Since 2000, visibility has been monitored with an Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) aerosol sampler. The Visibility Information Exchange Web System (VIEWS) provides air quality data, research and interpretation of the effects of air pollution on visibility.

Last updated: November 8, 2012