Muddy River/Meadow Valley Wash Project

The Muddy River Project aims at protecting and restoring a critical Mojave Desert aquatic ecosystem.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

The Muddy River is one of the most biologically rich areas in Nevada, providing habitat for four rare and endemic fish species, seven species of rare invertebrates, numerous rare and declining bird species, as well as Mojave Desert riparian mesquite and wetlands habitat.

The Muddy River lies about 60 miles northeast of Las Vegas, and begins a series of thermal springs in the Moapa Valley before reaching Lake Mead. Prior to construction of Hoover Dam, it flowed into the Virgin River just upstream of the confluence of the Virgin and Colorado Rivers.

The Muddy River Project is aimed at protecting and restoring a critical Mojave Desert aquatic ecosystem, forging positive working relationships between public and private stakeholders and helping ensure the success of the Clark County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.

River Facts
  • Length: 32 miles
  • Species: Moapa dace, southwestern willow flycatcher, vermilion flycatcher
  • Threats: invasive weeds and fish

The Conservancy launched its Muddy River Conservation Project in 1999 in partnership with Clark County, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the locally based Muddy River Regional Environmental Impact Alleviation Committee.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

In December 1997, the Conservancy and US Fish and Wildlife Service signed an agreement for cooperative management of the Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The endangered Moapa Dace have increased in Refuge streams as UFWS and Conservancy staff and volunteers have restored stream habitat by removing excess vegetation, digging out years of accumulated pea gravel, and restoring natural pools, riffles, and the natural substrate. The Conservancy has played a key role in developing cooperation between public agencies and private landowners to control the invasion of tilapia, an exotic fish, which has appeared as an emergency threat to dace and other native fish in the Muddy River.

The Conservancy facilitated a broad-based scientific consensus on the conservation and restoration priorities for the Muddy River under the auspices of the Clark County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan. The Conservancy has provided leadership in the acquisition process, as well as technical and contractual services to the transactions. 

We hope to continue to find ways to engage in conservation on the Muddy River and in protecting this important natural resource.