Study finds Nevada’s indigenous plants, animals under pressure
By Cy Ryan; Las Vegas Sun
About 15 percent of the plants and animals unique to Nevada are at risk due to climate and the growing population.
Las Vegas, NV | November 08, 2011
More than 3,800 species of plants and animals live in Nevada and 173 of these are not found anywhere else in the world. Their well-being was examined in a three-year study of Nevada's streams.
The survey said that less than half of the state's 283 streams surveyed are in good to very good condition.
The study said 13 percent of the streams are in poor condition. Some of the problems included excessive ground water withdrawal, incompatible livestock grazing and grazing by wild horses and burros.
The Nevada Stream Conservation Plan, released Monday was compiled by the Nevada Natural Heritage Program, the Desert Research Institute at the Nevada System of Higher Education and the Nature Conservancy.
The goal of the group is to have half of the state's streams in good to very good condition by 2025.
The report says about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas in the Amargosa and Oasis valleys of Southern Nye County "is a desert oasis harboring at least 20 plants and animals found nowhere else in the world, plus a number of other species of concern dependent upon spring ecosystems."
And restoration is planned in this area to restore the critically needed aquatic habitat for the native species within the Fairbanks and Soda Springs spring brook overflow systems.
The report said the restoration is important to protect the Ash Meadows pupfish, speckled dace, endemic aquatic invertebrates and springnails.
Statewide, two of the threats to the rare plants and animal life are the bullfrog and the convict circhlids. "The bullfrogs feed on anything that gets into their mouth directly contributing to the decline of native species," the study said.
The convict circhlids is released into fresh water and "preys on native aquatic species," the study said. The goal is to reduce, control and eradicate these "highly invasive non-native aquatic species."
Jennifer Newmark, administrator of the Nevada Natural Heritage Program, said the study found of the 69 highest priority conservation sites 53 are springs with rare plant and animal life.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at www.nature.org. To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit www.nature.org/global. To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.