“This partnership is a proactive approach to recovering the sage-grouse and is part of the bigger conservation picture. We are working to create a healthier environment which, in turn, supports a healthy economy.” -Matthew Tuma, Nevada State Director for The Nature Conservancy
The Walker River feeds Walker Lake, one of just three desert terminal lakes – a lake with no outlet – in North America. Since the 1800s, the water level in the lake has dropped 150 feet. These changes have damaged the river's ability to provide for the plants, animals and people that depend on it, including the Lahontan cutthroat trout and the genetically distinct Bi-State population of sage-grouse.
The Nature Conservancy is working with partners including the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Nevada Department of Wildlife to help protect the important resources of the Walker River. The Conservancy is providing our proven scientific tools to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Walker Basin Restoration Program to help guide decisions about how to conserve and restore the Walker River and Walker Lake, so the basin and the economy that it supports through recreation and tourism can thrive.
The Conservancy is proud to have secured a conservation easement over approximately 3,842-acre of the Fairfield Ranch in Douglas County, our first conservation success on the Walker River (see map). Ranch owners and long-time environmentalists, Cindy and Alan Horn, donated the conservation easement along with a stewardship endowment to The Nature Conservancy. Along with the ranch owners, we worked with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and others for more than four years on this project.
Fairfield Ranch straddles the West Walker River for nearly three miles, and the easement will prevent development in the floodplain, help ranching remain viable and protect habitat for many wildlife species including the Greater Sage-grouse, Lahontan cutthroat trout, golden eagle, great blue heron, loggerhead shrike, mule deer, pygmy rabbit, bobcat, and monarch butterfly. The floodplain is also important for recharging groundwater and diffusing flood waters.
After the success at Fairfield Ranch, The Nature Conservancy teamed up again with Cindy and Alan Horn to protect another 574 acres along the West Walker River at Wade-Fernley Ranch. The Wade-Fernley property straddles the West Walker River for approximately one mile directly downstream of Fairfield Ranch. Together, the two conservation easements permanently protect four continuous miles of the river and more than 4,400 acres. See a map of the protected area >
“This easement marks another conservation milestone that benefits both nature and people,” says Duane Petite, the Conservancy’s Carson River program director, “because a healthy environment supports a healthy economy.”
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) considers both properties important summer and winter habitat for the Bi-State (Nevada and California) population of the greater sage-grouse. This easement will help protect critical habitat for the iconic bird, a focus of many people across the state.
Eastern Sierra Rivers
The Walker River is one of three rivers that originate in the Sierra and flow through northwestern Nevada that the Conservancy is working to protect. These rivers the – Walker, Carson and Truckee – sustain us by providing vital clean drinking water to our communities; support us economically through ranching, tourism and other activities; and refresh us by offering recreation and a connection to nature. Learn more about the work we're doing to protect water resources and wildlife, like the Lahontan cutthroat trout, on the lower Truckee River, along the Carson River, and at the Independence Lake Preserve.