The lakes, springs, streams and marshes of Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge provide valuable aquatic and wetland habitat for many species of Nevada's fish, birds and other wildlife. The Pahranagat Roundtail Chub (Gila robusta jordani
), a fish native to the springs and streams of this region, is believed to be almost extinct in the wild, and is considered the most endangered fish in the Great Basin. The majority of remaining individuals of this species reside in an artificial pond on the nearby Key Pittman Wildlife Management Area. Providing safe refuge for another breeding population of Pahranagat Roundtail Chub is an essential step in ensuring the continued survival of this species. Another fish species, the Pahranagat speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus velifer
) was also once very common in the Pahranagat Valley. Previous surveys reported this fish from both Cottonwood and L Springs, but recent surveys suggest that speckled dace are declining on the refuge. OBEC developed design and restoration plans of Cottonwood and L Springs to create natural habitat for the endangered Pahranagat roundtail chub and rare Pahranagat speckled dace. Although Otis Bay's restoration efforts at Cottonwood and L Springs primarily aim to provide habitat for the Pahranagat roundtail chub and the Pahranagat speckled dace, the expansion of wetland and open water habitats will also benefit native amphibians, aquatic invertebrates, and migratory birds.
About 1,000 Pahranagat roundtail chub were introduced into the Cottonwood Spring pond in 2011. Monitoring efforts to determine the chubs’ success are ongoing. Revegetation took place in 2011 and 2012. OBEC employees planted native plugs, as well as willow, cottonwood, mule-fat, skunkbush sumac, and rose. 12-inch diameter plugs were taken from nearby wet meadows using an OBEC-designed extractor. Willows, cottonwoods, and mule-fat were sourced from the refuge and grown by Paiute Native Plants.