Amargosa River Project

Conserving one of the world’s longest underground rivers.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

A systematic scientific survey of the Mojave Desert Ecoregion (which includes parts of Nevada, California, Arizona and Utah) conducted by The Nature Conservancy found the diverse habitats in and around the Amargosa River to be high-priority, biologically rich, threatened lands in need of long-term protection.

The Amargosa is a unique aquatic system in the Mojave; most of its course is underground. Where it sporadically surfaces it has created ecologically rich oases such as Ash Meadows and the Oasis Valley in Nevada, and Tecopa, Shoshone and the Amargosa Canyon in California. As a result of these unique conditions, each oasis contains species and natural communities that exist nowhere else on earth.

River Facts
  • Length: 125 miles
  • Species: Desert willow, cottonwood riparian woodlands, Devil's hole pupfish, Amargosa toad, Oasis Valley speckled dace, Ash Meadows ladies tresses, Pacific tree frogs, and 200 bird species including neotropical migratory birds like the yellow warbler and yellow-breasted chat.
  • Threats: A lack of thorough environmental planning has led to the appearance of numerous renewable energy project applications, both wind and solar, in the Amargosa River groundwater basin on both sides of the state line. This has the potential to not only further tax an already over-appropriated groundwater system, but to render tens of thousands of acres of pristine Mojave Desert upland habitats unsuitable for the many native plants and animals that call this area home. The Conservancy is working with the Federal land managers and some forward thinking renewable energy companies to avoid and or minimize such impacts where possible.

Collaboration with local businesses and Nye County has led to model landowner partnerships that have helped threatened species and habitat without incurring federal intervention, which could provoke uncertainty for the local economy.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

The Conservancy has been engaged in the Amargosa River system since the late 1980s, when the Amargosa River Preserve was established along the lower river section in California.

More recently, the Conservancy has been working along a 12-mile expanse of springs, wetlands and riparian habitat in the Oasis Valley. The Conservancy has recreated pond habitat for Amargosa toads and tadpoles on the Torrance and Parker Ranches, both acquired with private funds from our members and partners. 

In a doubling of effort and commitment, the Conservancy's Nevada and California chapters are undertaking an ambitious expansion into the lower watershed to protect a functional desert landscape of nearly 3 million acres through private land (and possibly water) acquisitions and improved public land management practices.

Torrance Ranch

The Torrance Ranch Preserve was acquired by The Nature Conservancy in 1999 and is the Conservancy’s first restoration project in the Oasis Valley. The goal of restoration at this site is to re-create a functioning ecosystem in an area that had been affected by over 100 years of human activity.

In 2008, the Conservancy completed its first prescribed burn in the chapter's history at Torrance Ranch.  The goal of using prescribed fire is to reopen wetland habitat for Amargosa toads that has become choked with cattails and reeds.  

Learn more about our work at Torrance Ranch and get details on visiting the preserve.


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