The year that was: Looking back on Nevada’s conservation and preservation highlights in 2018
The year that was: Looking back on Nevada’s conservation and preservation highlights in 2018; sneak peek into 2019
2018 was an exciting year for the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. As we put 2018 in the rear-view mirror, we’d like to celebrate some of our more notable highlights from the past year, and share a glimpse into what’s in store for 2019.
Nevada Division of State Parks (NDSP)
· Increased visitation by 14% in 2018, with more than 3.6 million visitors at Nevada’s 26 State Parks.
· Hosted more than 350 interpretive programs and guided hikes.
· Created two new State Parks in 2018! The Walker River State Recreation Area, located near Yerington, officially opened to the public on September 22, 2018; the new Ice Age Fossils State Park, located in northern Las Vegas, is slated to fully open to the public in 2019.
· Constructed a beautiful garden at Buckland Station near Fort Churchill State Historic Park.
· Remodeled and upgraded the visitor center at Washoe Lake State Park.
· Open a full-hookups campground in the Pitchfork Ranch unit of the Walker River State Recreation Area in spring 2019. Cabins at the Rafter 7 unit of the park are currently in the design stage.
· Scheduled to open Ice Age Fossils State Park with a new, state-of-the-art visitor center in summer/fall 2019.
· Complete a new primitive campground at Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area by spring 2019.
· Install Wi-Fi for visitor use throughout all the southern region State Parks by spring 2019 (Clark, Lincoln, and Nye Counties).
Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF)
· Hosted more than 70 public outreach and education events throughout Nevada, providing wildfire prevention awareness, community safety, and conservation education to more than 40,000 people.
· NDF’s Nursery Program produced 60,000 plants and procured 40,000 pounds of seed for fire rehabilitation and natural resource conservation projects across Nevada.
· Completed 140+ projects which reduced hazardous fuel and improved forest health.
· Partnered with federal and local agencies to suppress 662 wildfires across Nevada, totaling more than 1 million acres.
· Treated 6,400 acres of high-priority lands, and provided more than 15,000 pounds of seed mix for rehabilitation on land impacted by wildfire.
· Focusing on expanding and strengthening partnerships to increase the size and scale of hazardous fuel reduction projects, forest and rangeland health and watershed protection projects across multiple jointly owned high priority lands throughout the state.
· Continue outreach efforts to educate communities on wildfire prevention and preparedness strategies aimed at preventing human-caused fires.
· Partnering with local cooperators to protect and rehabilitate priority Sage Grouse habitat and prevent establishment of invasive species.
Nevada State Historic Preservation Office (NSHPO)
· Added four historic Nevada properties to the National Register of Historic Places: Wilhelm Lampe Ranch (Gardnerville), Stodieck Ranch (Gardnerville), Jacobs Berry Farm (Gardnerville), and the Lund Grade School (Elko).
· Placed a new Historic State Marker at Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park - Cave Rock (266 Historic Markers statewide).
· Complete a draft 8-year Nevada Historic Preservation Plan available for review by June 2019.
Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP)
· Among the first in the nation to utilize funding from the Volkswagen settlement to fund vehicle pollution reduction projects. $6.6 million has leveraged more than $9.4 million from project partners.
· Eliminated the permit renewal backlog to ensure mine operation permits were up-to date-and protective of water quality.
· With project partners, NDEP’s water quality program met its first 5 year milestone for reducing fine sediment to restore Lake Tahoe clarity.
· Launched a new program to provide grant funding to prevent leaks from underground fuel tanks.
· Provided $1.5 million to the town of Hawthorne for the operation of an engineered wetlands facility for wastewater treatment.
· Provided funding and technical assistance to school districts to complete testing for lead in drinking water in 330 elementary schools throughout Nevada, ensuring lead in drinking water in these schools is below EPA health based levels.
· Launch an innovative system to clean up polluted groundwater at the Las Vegas Maryland Square Perchloroethylene (PCE) Site, a former drycleaner site with historic PCE releases.
· Commence the first phase of the Anaconda Mine Site cleanup near Yerington, generations of pollution impacting land and water quality from prior mining operations.
Nevada Division of State Lands (NDSL)
· The Nevada Tahoe Resource Team, coordinated by NDSL, completed a 300-acre forest health project near Spooner Lake to improve the area’s resilience to drought, wildfire, and invasive species.
· Celebrated the 20-year anniversary of the Nevada Lake Tahoe License Plate (LTLP) program. In 2018, the LTLP program provided more than $400,000 for seven different projects that will help protect the Lake Tahoe watershed. Over the years, LTLP funding has also supported numerous enhancements in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, including new comfort stations, erosion control fencing, and lake overlooks.
· Restore 400 feet of impaired stream channel along Rosewood Creek in Incline Village, including the construction of two stormwater basins, rock pools, and biostabilization improvements to repair headcuts and inset floodplains.
· Begin restoration work on a newly acquired 7.6-acre parcel off Kingsbury Grade in Stateline, Nevada; recontour disturbed areas, including an undeveloped building pad, to match the surrounding slope of the landscape and establish a native plant community on the site.
Nevada Division of Water Resources (NDWR)
· With Nevada being the driest state in the nation, continued addressing the challenges of over-appropriation of water rights in numerous basins, as well as the conjunctive management of surface and groundwater systems statewide.
· Hosted and participated in more than 16 outreach and education events, providing flood awareness, preparedness, and safety activities to more than 2,200 people.
· Completed inspections of Nevada’s 244 dams, including 142 high-hazard dams, ahead of schedule.
· Continued implementation of Nevada Drought Forum recommendations to prepare for future droughts through education, ongoing monitoring of water usage, groundwater levels and climate data.
· Encouraged water conservation through ongoing review of local water conservation plans and updates, assuring community water systems are being proactive in the responsible use of Nevada’s limited water resources.
· Expand its Floodplain Management Program to provide assistance and community outreach events in every rural county in Nevada.
· Continue to engage with stakeholders to address the challenges related to over-appropriation of water rights and conjunctive management along Nevada’s river systems.
· Accepting grant applications for its Channel Clearance and Surveying Program, which has renewed funding and aids local governments in the clearance, maintenance, restoration, and surveying of Nevada’s navigable rivers.
Nevada Natural Heritage Program (NNHP)
· Nevada has wetlands! NNHP received the second year of funding of a two-year Wetland Program Development Grant to continue to map Nevada wetlands, develop a rapid assessment protocol for wetlands, and complete a Springsnail conservation strategy.
· Participated in surveys for bat species, as a member of the Nevada Bat Working Group, at NDSP’s new Walker River State Recreation Area. A total of 13 different bat species were documented during the four-nights of surveys in August.
· Hosted Natural Heritage West 2018, an international gathering of western natural heritage programs, conservation data centers, and NatureServe to share ideas and successes, discuss common challenges, and create solutions to enhance the use of scientific data for biodiversity conservation and informed land-use decisions in the west.
· Planning to conduct rare butterfly surveys to uncover new locations and update historic locations throughout Nevada.
Nevada Sagebrush Ecosystem Program (NSEP)
· NSEP completed its second transaction through its innovative Conservation Credit System (CCS). The transaction was completed in partnership with Newmont Mining to offset environmental disturbances by preserving high quality Sage-Grouse habitat valued at 248 credits for 50 years on the West IL Ranch. Parts of the ranch recently affected by wildfire are also planned to be restored to earn further credits.
· Focus on implementing the CCS at a larger scale to mitigate significant disturbances in Greater Sage-Grouse habitat, and to enhance Nevada’s critical sagebrush ecosystem.
· Implement December 2018 Executive Order by Governor Sandoval directing the Sagebrush Ecosystem Council to adopt regulations requiring mitigation on state and federal land for activities that impact Sage Grouse habitat.
Nevada Off-highway Vehicles Program (NOHVP)
· Awarded the 2018 Trail Partner of the Year to Stan Harger of the Mesquite Kokopelli ATV club for coordinating the installation of over 180 miles of signage on OHV routes between Mesquite and Caliente
· The Nevada Commission on Off-Highway Vehicles (Commission) awarded 28 grants, totaling $1,357,290 in 2018, to fund OHV trails, signage, enforcement, and education statewide.
· NOHVP hosted Nevada’s first OHV educational summit in Ely, with over 70 attendees from across Nevada.
· Created the Nevada Mapping Collaborative to develop Nevada’s first online trail-mapping website. The website will significantly benefit Nevada’s rural communities and OHV recreationists by providing printable PDF maps, geo-referenced maps, and downloadable GPS Exchange files for Nevada's authorized OHV trails. NOHVP’s collaborative partners include Great Basin Institute, NDSP’s Recreational Trails Program, BLM, USFS, and numerous clubs, towns and cities. ohv.nv.gov/trails
· The Commission awarded another 17 grants, totaling over $933,600, to fund OHV projects for 2019.
· Nevada is excited to have been chosen to host the 2019 International Off-Highway Vehicle Administrators Association/National Off-Highway Vehicles Conservation Council Conference in Reno in October 2019. This conference brings together motorized partners from across the nation, including International OHV Administrators.
Nevada Conservation Districts Program (NCDP)
· The State Conservation Commission awarded all 28 Conservation Districts “Good Standing.”
· Several Conservation Districts sponsored local high school students to attend the Nevada Youth Range Camp at Smith Creek Ranch.
· Many Conservation Districts offered college scholarships for local students interested in pursuing range, agriculture, or natural resource related fields of study.
· Conservation District supervisors and board members participated in numerous education and outreach events, such as Noxious Weed Workshops, Partnering on Burned Area Rehab Efforts, and Local Area Working Group Presentations.
· Using State Conservation Commission grant funding, several Conservation Districts implemented projects to enhance Nevada’s Sage-Grouse habitat.
· Continue partnerships with State and Federal entities to strengthen projects and present new opportunities.
· Support collaborative efforts involving locally led conservation.
· Update the Conservation District Supervisor Handbook, which will be included in the annual leadership training.
Stay tuned for more exciting conservation and preservation news in the year to come.