Nevada: Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge Wetland Enhancement Project

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The Ruby Lake Enhancement Project focused on improving water management throughout the entire Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Specifically, an aging and failing water management system was causing the refuge to suffer sub-optimal year-round habitat conditions, which greatly affected breeding bird numbers and waterfowl productivity.

To restore long-term viability, the project required two phases. First, to enhance 1,755 acres, the East Marsh levee was rebuilt to ensure proper water and habitat management. 

Second, the 7,600-acre South Marsh Enhancement Phase added or replaced 13 water-control structures, improving regulation of South Marsh water levels to alleviate nest flooding and enhance flow to the upper East Marsh. One additional element of the South Marsh project was the restoration of a mosaic of open water by retarding the growth of hardstem bulrushes. The result of that particular effort was the creation of additional diving duck nest sites and brood-rearing habitat. In all phases, DU served as project manager by coordinating project funding, engineering design development and construction management.

Ruby Lake NWR has been identified as one of 500 Globally Important Bird Areas by the American Bird Conservancy. It supports the largest population of nesting canvasbacks west of the Mississippi River outside Alaska and is a vital waterfowl nesting area. More than 220 species of birds visit regularly; providing nesting habitat for migratory waterfowl and other birds is the primary purpose of the refuge. It is open seasonally for hunting and year round for bird watching and fishing.

This project was funded in part by a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant.

Partners: Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada Waterfowl Association, Intermountain West Joint Venture, Wildlife and Habitat Improvement of Nevada, Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, North American Wetlands Conservation Council and Ducks Unlimited