Carson Lake WMA

Nevada Department of Wildlife

The West really is a land of extremes.

Last year, wetland managers in Nevada were in the middle of one of the worst droughts on record and trying to stretch every drop of water to provide habitat for birds. This year, the exact opposite is happening. The Nevada Department of Wildlife shared dramatic photos earlier this month of flooding at the Carson Lake Wildlife Management Area near Fallon, where wetland managers are working frantically to keep infrastructure intact.

Mason Valley Wildlife Management Area near Yerington also is experiencing substantially high water levels. Both wildlife areas have closed some public access because of flooded roads and other safety concerns.

The good news is flooded wetlands, as well as all the water flooding western Nevada’s agricultural fields, is providing great spring habitat for local and migratory birds, Isaac Metcalf, who oversees Nevada’s western wildlife areas for NDOW, told Ducks Unlimited.

Even Alkali Lake Wildlife Management Area, which has been dry for years, has gotten some water this year, Metcalf said. Metcalf has spotted good numbers of waterfowl, including pintails and redheads, as he’s traveled around the region this spring. 

“That’s the one plus,” Metcalf said. “The ducks, they’re loving it out here.” 

At the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge Complex near Fallon, manager Carl Lunderstadt told DU that, so far, Carson Lake WMA upstream of the federal complex has borne the brunt of the flooding this spring. Flows entering the refuge complex have been much more manageable, though conditions could change, Lunderstadt said. Looking ahead, he expects every wetland unit should be flooded for the fall migration.

“It should be a very nice fall at Stillwater,” Lunderstadt said.

Ducks Unlimited has recently completed work at Mason Valley WMA and at Stillwater NWR to improve habitat and water infrastructure. Later this year, Ducks Unlimited will finish work on improving water infrastructure to Carson Lake WMA.

Thanks to your support, Ducks Unlimited has invested $15.2 million and conserved 76,014 acres in Nevada.