The Nature Conservancy is working to restore habitat and expand educational opportunities at 7J Ranch.
In February 2019, after nearly two decades of effort, The Nature Conservancy's Nevada chapter acquired the 7J Ranch in Oasis Valley, Nevada. The property is located in rural Nye County, roughly a two-hour drive from downtown Las Vegas. The acquisition included a 900-acre base property with associated water rights and an approximately 280,000-acre grazing allotment. The springs and wetlands found on the property form the headwaters of the Amargosa River, a primarily underground river that emerges to the surface as springs along its path.
The Amargosa River system comprises three major regions of isolated wetland systems. The upper region is known as the Oasis Valley near the Town of Beatty, Nevada. Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and associated springs near the Town of Amargosa Valley form the middle region of the Amargosa system. The lower region of the Amargosa River, near the towns of Shoshone and Tecopa, California, is free-flowing and recognized as a federally designated Wild & Scenic River.
When the Amargosa River emerges aboveground, it gives rise to oases harboring a remarkable diversity of life, including rare fish, plants, amphibians and more than 250 species of resident and migratory birds. In fact, the highest concentration of endemic species anywhere in the United States is found along the middle region of the Amargosa River system, at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.
TNC acquired the 7J Ranch to protect the property’s exceptional ecological value and the headwaters of the Amargosa River. We have now succeeded in these goals, but there are new challenges ahead. When we purchased the property in early 2019, it was clear that a century of varied land uses had affected ecosystem functions that would require active restoration to address. This restoration need is especially important as the pressures of a changing climate and the demands of a growing population in southern Nevada continue to mount along the Amargosa River system.
Introducing the Conservation Innovation Center at 7J Ranch
Conserving the Amargosa River will require new approaches to conservation that need to be coordinated and implemented across the broader 180-mile system and throughout the Mojave Desert. For these approaches to work, they will not only need to be ecologically sound, but they will need to work socially, politically and economically to ensure lasting success on the scale required. To help us develop and implement the approaches needed, we will have to cross disciplines, create new frontiers, forge new partnerships and tackle new challenges. Should we assist the migration of species to help them adapt to climate change? Why are screwbean mesquite woodlands dying, and what can be done to restore them? How do we find ways of breaking down perceived divergent interests (such as urban vs. rural; science vs. arts; outside expertise vs. local knowledge; conservative vs. liberal) to advance common goals?
Answering these questions will require a space for people from different backgrounds to learn from each other and work together. We need scientists, ranchers, urban residents, anthropologists, rural community members, artists, tribal members and writers working together to develop and implement new approaches to pressing issues.
We want to make the 7J Ranch the place for conservation innovation to happen, so we are creating the Conservation Innovation Center (CIC), a first-of-its-kind collaborative conservation center in the state of Nevada. We envision the Center as a thriving hub where people from different organizations, disciplines and backgrounds can learn from, teach and inspire one another to turn dreams into realities. The mission of the CIC at 7J Ranch is to conserve one of the most important hotspots of biodiversity in the country, the Amargosa River system.
People and Nature at 7J Ranch
We envision the Conservation Innovation Center as a thriving hub where people from different organizations, disciplines, and backgrounds can learn from, teach and inspire one another to turn dreams into realities. We are open to hearing from anyone and everyone who is interested in engaging with us on the CIC at 7J Ranch.
A place to bridge divides
The 7J Ranch has existing facilities that can be converted to use as a work/research station, including a bunkhouse for hosting groups, buildings for lab space, a renovated ranch house and an indoor space for hosting group meetings and presentations. We are working in an ongoing collaboration with University of Nevada-Las Vegas Landscape Architecture School students to develop design concepts for future amenities.
The 7J is one of a network of properties owned by TNC along the Amargosa River. This network of TNC-owned properties provides opportunities for additional field sites across broad environmental gradients. This network of properties also creates the potential for partners to implement ideas on the ground. The ranch is located at the northeastern gateway of Death Valley National Park, and our neighbor at the Spicer Ranch has facilities for hosting very large groups, as well as excellent recreational opportunities, including a growing mountain bike trail system.
How can you get involved?
There are many ways to get involved at the CIC at 7J Ranch, whether you are a scientist, researcher, conservationist, writer, artist, a community leader...the possibilities are endless! If you would like to stay in the loop, or have any questions, please send us a message at email@example.com.