Amargosa River

Sponsors and Partners:

The Nature Conservancy, Arbor Day Foundation, Northern Arizona University, American Conservation Experience

Project Duration: 2020 to Current

Project Overview

Amargosa River

The Land:

The Amargosa River is a network of springs comprising an ephemeral river system with shallow ground-water. Over the past century land-use and invasive species have eliminated much of the native riparian zone at springs and along the river. Over the past decade federal agencies, landowners, and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have worked to remove tamarisk from much of the river system. The Amargosa River provides critical wildlife habitat in the Mojave Desert and is one of the most biodiverse areas in North America. Increasing the amount of riparian area (acreage) and increasing the density (complexity) of current riparian area will provide additional and enhanced habitat for wildlife and improve flood and erosion control along streambanks.

The People:

We are working with communities in Shoshone, California and Beatty, Nevada to bring public participation to the restoration process. We are also working with a collective of Federal, State, and University partners to develop a restoration approach for coping with the loss of screwbean mesquite throughout the western United States. This tree species has been blinking out of existence over the past decade and we are working to understand why and what we can do to save it.

The Restoration:

To plant 30,000 native plants along the Amargosa River in the Mojave Desert of Nevada and California.

7J Ranch: A 900-acre property at the headwater of the Amargosa River owned by TNC. Historic grazing and irrigation have eliminated and stunted much of the riparian zone. The goal is to enhance the current Gooding’s willows with additional willows, cottonwoods, and ash to increase habitat for wildlife.

Stagecoach Parcels: 4-acre parcel in the Town of Beatty, NV and owned by TNC. Tamarisk was recently removed, flood berms were removed, and river was recontoured. Goal is to enhance riparian corridor and provide a demonstration trail for visitors and residents.

Beatty Narrows: A 72-acre property with 1500 feet of river dissecting the property, owned by TNC. Tamarisk were removed in 2019 and goal is to increase the density of native riparian vegetation. Some cottonwoods and screwbean mesquite exist but lacks dense overstory component. Plantings will occur directly in water channel in fall, 2020. In addition, a series of check dams will be created using onsite river rocks to build out the floodplain, reduce stream flow, and increase riparian habitat.

Torrance Ranch: A 128-acre spring-fed property owned by TNC. Goal is to establish a riparian corridor along the stream with wet meadows on the margins of the riparian area. Grass will be removed immediately prior to planting.

Amargosa Canyon: Invasive tamarisk were recently removed, and the canyon has burned multiple times. Arrow-weed has grown in many locations and some large stands will need to be removed to increase overstory on wet soils. Several areas near Tecopa in the canyon have been identified for planting. We will test the logistical constraints by planting a small subset of trees in this canyon and be doing so, develop a longer-term plan for restoration of the entire canyon.