Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

Ash Meadows NWR is adjacent to Death Valley in the north Mojave Desert. It's one of the newer National Wildlife Refuges, only having been established in 1984. It was a wetland that had been drained over the years; to harvest peat, to raise crops. It has 23,000 acres of spring-fed wetlands and alkaline desert uplands. "Over 100 miles to the northeast, water enters a vast underground aquifer system. The water, also known as 'fossil water', takes thousands of years to move through the ground. A geological fault acts as an 'underground dam' blocking the flow of water and forcing it to the surface into 30 seeps and springs. Over 10,000 gallons per minute flow year round, most of which come from seven major springs."

Since it was established as a NWR, the Department of the Interior and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have been working hard to restore the wetlands. They have built miles of boardwalk so that visitors can visit the springs without further damaging the environment -- and I think Forry and I walked on every foot of them!

This is part of the boardwalk and one of the bridges at Point of Rock Springs. The pupfish males here are a brilliant iridescent blue.

One of the most beautiful and plentiful wildflowers in the Refuge is the bright yellow desert Prince's Plume (Stanleya pinnata). This unusual plant accumulates toxic selenium from the soil.

More of the miles of boardwalk as well as some of the native plantings (and the temporary watering system) that the Refuge is attempting to re-establish.

In areas near the springs where the sun is already drying out the soil, like between the boardwalk area above, you can seen the salt crystals encrusted on the salt grass and thistles...

We did a lot of walking today and got quite a bit of sun. It was hot today! We are both tired. I KNOW that tomorrow will be a rest day!

1 comment:

  1. I love how many of the U.S parks make boardwalks to keep people off the flora...makes it much easier to hike also!