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Ecological Projects >> Muddy River >> Muddy River Assessment

Project:  Geomorphic and Biologic Assessment of the Upper Muddy River, Nevada

Client:  Clark County, Nevada and The Nature Conservancy

Date:  Project completed December 2005.

Site Location:   The Muddy River is located approximately 60 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada.  More than 20 springs surface in the upper Moapa Valley, within a radius of approximately 1.5 miles, and converge to form the Muddy River.

Looking across the Muddy River toward ???
Looking across the Muddy River.
Project Summary:
The ground water that discharges at the headwater springs issues from a regional carbonate aquifer that provides water to much of Nevada (primarily Las Vegas).  Demand for larger quantities of ground water throughout Nevada promises to create significant resource management challenges within the Upper Muddy River (UMR).  Similar to other locations where Otis Bay works, the UMR harbors a suite of native species that occur in relatively small geographic areas including the Moapa dace (Moapa coriacea), Moapa speckled dace (Crenichthys baileyi moapae), Moapa pebble snail (Pyrgulopsis avernalis), Moapa water strider (Rhagovelia becki), and the Moapa naucorid (Usingerina moapensis).

The geomorphic assessment of the Upper Muddy River (UMR) was conducted for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and its stakeholders, all of which have the common goal of preservation of important species and habitat along the UMR.  According to the Clark County Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP), the Muddy River has been identified as one of the highest priority conservation areas in Clark County.

The UMR, here defined as the upper drainage basin of the Muddy River extending upstream from the Interstate 15 Bridge approximately 14 miles, is one of the most important stream corridors within the Mojave Desert.  In addition to the presence of a unique Mojave Desert riparian vegetation community, this area contains habitat for 4 rare and endemic fish species and 7 species of rare invertebrates.

The primary objective of the geomorphic assessment was to investigate and define restoration options along the UMR in order to recover the species of concern.  The purpose of the assessment was to present background information regarding the UMR within the overall context of habitat restoration.  Components of the assessment included 1) aquatic invertebrate and riparian vegetation surveys along the mainstem of the UMR and 2) a hydrologic assessment including HEC-RAS modeling.  The end product of the assessment was a framework of habitat restoration alternatives and associated costs.

Project Update:
This project was completed in December 2005.  The Nature Conservancy submitted their final report in April 2006.  This document will hopefully guide restoration actions within the UMR valley in future years.

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