Amargosa River

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Amargosa River

Date: 03/12/2022     State: NV     Issues: Renewable Energy, Watersheds, Wildlife     Partners: Amargosa Conservancy, Center for Biological Diversity, National Park Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy Airport Origin : Pahrump, NV    


Analyze proposed energy developments and current agriculture and extraction activity in the Amargosa Basin. Provide local and regional conservation partners, members of the media, National Park Service and NV Department of Wildlife faculty with an encompassing perspective of the threats to the Amargosa River.

The Amargosa Basin represents a vast stretch of desert that creates vital habitat connectivity between Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve. The centerpiece of the Amargosa Basin is the Amargosa River. From its headwaters north of Beatty, NV, the river flows largely underground and drains into Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the US. Twenty-eight miles of the river is designated a Wild and Scenic River, a rarity for an intermittent desert waterway. The Amargosa is one of the few perennial rivers in the region, and is fed by a deep, ancient carbonate aquifer. This makes it a reliable source of water in a parched and unpredictable landscape, but also a source that is not easily recharged and sensitive to overdraw.

The Amargosa Basin is home to important cultural and natural resources. The area contains historic footpaths of the Shoshone and Paiute, wagon routes of the Mormon Trail, old railroad beds, and mining roads, and today offers off-road recreation routes. In the extremely hot and dry habitat, the river supports a variety of plant and animal species. The basin hosts migrating birds and the natural springs provide habitat for rare and endemic species of plants and wildlife - including the endangered Amargosa vole, that occupies a range of only five square miles, making it the most endangered mammal in the country.

The Amargosa River is located close to agricultural activity, extraction, and renewable energy projects. Mining and agricultural developments, some of which are close to the Amargosa headwaters, pose serious threats to the river. To conserve the Amargosa’s integrity and many values, nearby developments must be carefully monitored to avoid pollution and groundwater pumping. The river water must be sustainably allocated to ensure downstream habitat is preserved for rare and endangered species.

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