Winnemucca, Nev. – The BLM Black Rock Field Office coordinated with Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and Friends of Nevada Wilderness to install an exclosure fence around a spring in the Fly Canyon to protect a population of Desert Dace, a rare Nevada fish.
Wild horses and burros frequently use the spring at Fly Canyon as a water source and heavy use has caused damage to the spring habitat. The severity of these impacts has been compounded due to continuing drought conditions. Agency biologists were concerned that without some type of protection this Desert Dace population would not survive the summer. The exclosure will reduce impacts caused by heavy use while allowing wild horses and burros access to the water that flows out of the spring.
In 1985 USFWS listed the Desert Dace as a federally listed threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). At that time, the species was only known to occur in Soldier Meadows, another area managed by the BLM. In 2010, NDOW discovered a separate population of Desert Dace in a geothermal spring in Fly Canyon, located in the High Rock Lake Wilderness. Desert Dace are known to occur in only a small number of locations and require specific types of spring environments. The Fly Canyon population of Desert Dace is separate from that found in the Soldier Meadows area and may have different genetic traits.
While the protection of a species under the ESA was the driving force for the project, the land surrounding it is protected by the Wilderness Act, which prohibits the use of mechanized equipment in designated wilderness areas. By flying the materials in by helicopter and installing the fence by hand the partners prevented damage to the land while providing protection for the Desert Dace and the potential unique genetic of the species in Fly Canyon.
“The project was critical to prevent the loss of this population of the Desert Dace, and we very much appreciate the assistance of both the BLM and USFWS in completion of the exclosure” says Jon Sjoberg, NDOW Chief of Fisheries. “With the protection now in place, NDOW will be continuing Desert Dace population and monitoring surveys over the next several years while inspecting the fence for functionality and maintenance.” Adjacent to Fly Canyon is the Soldier Meadows Area of Critical Environmental Concern, which the BLM manages to ensure harmony between recreational use of the area and the needs of its many sensitive species, such as the Desert Dace.
“The recovery of species like Desert Dace ultimately depends upon our ability to work together toward common goals. The determination and commitment of our partners at NDOW, BLM, USGS, and the Friends of Nevada Wilderness proves that we can come together to conserve Nevada’s imperiled species and most unique natural resources for future generations,” says Ted Koch, Field Supervisor for the USFWS’s Reno Fish and Wildlife Office.
For more information about the project, please contact Kathy Cadigan, Wildlife Biologist for the Black Rock Field Office at 775-623-1500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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