Life is about to get better for shorebirds in the Lahontan Valley wetlands and we are excited.
We are excited because two recent events have set the stage to reverse the steady decline of shorebirds that has occurred at Carson Lake and Stillwater NWR over the past 30 years.
Finally, 31 years after authorization, the Federal government transferred ownership of Carson Lake and Pasture to the State of Nevada. Although Nevada has managed Carson Lake for many years under agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation, the State has been reluctant to invest resources in a property it did not own. A wildlife management plan for the area was drafted but never officially finalized or implemented. With the transfer completed, we anticipate the Nevada Department of Wildlife will soon be kicking off a habitat management planning effort for Carson Lake and Pasture.
So… how will the transfer improve the lot of shorebirds? Nevada will now develop a new management plan with public input. The transfer authorization requires Nevada manage Carson Lake and Pasture as a wildlife management area consistent with applicable international agreements related to migratory waterfowl and shorebirds, and its status as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site. This caveat will ensure that shorebird needs will be adequately represented in the planning process.
The second event is the award of a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to the National Audubon Society (NAS) for its Saline Lakes Program, which is part of the NAS Western Water initiative. In turn, NAS has awarded a sub-grant to Lahontan Audubon Society. NAS, Lahontan Audubon, along with Manomet, will work closely with the Nevada Department of Wildlife and US Fish & Wildlife Service on a project aimed at conserving shorebirds and their important Lahontan Valley important habitats The project participants will identify habitat needs for 11 priority shorebird species; examine the habitat management units at Carson Lake and Stillwater in order to identify impediments to and opportunities for improving shorebird management; and improve capacity for monitoring shorebird populations.
The Lahontan Audubon Society sub-grant is to improve the capacity for monitoring shorebird populations. Dr. Alan Gubanich and I are seeking to recruit 12 community science volunteers to monitor shorebird populations. We anticipate fielding teams of 2-3 volunteers to help federal and state biologists conduct surveys beginning with fall migration this August and again next year during spring and fall migration. To this end we are developing a shorebird identification training program with a focus on 22 species, along with some of the rare or uncommon shorebird species we might have the opportunity to see in the field. We plan to host several live video classes and two field trips to the wetlands as part of the program. We will teach volunteers techniques for navigating to a point, conducting a point count, and accurately recording data. We can provide spotting scopes, binoculars, field guides and GPS units. We also have some funds to help with mileage reimbursement.
Disclaimer: "The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Government or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and its funding sources. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Government, or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation or its funding sources."