During December 2009, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) began Phase 1 of the Upper Carson Slough (UCS) restoration project. Prior to Refuge establishment in 1984, Ash Meadows underwent dramatic landscape alteration as spring outflows were diverted for agriculture and ranching. Approximately two miles of the upper Fairbanks outflow was reconstructed along its historic drainage during Phase 1 of the UCS project. Historically, Fairbanks Spring and outflow were occupied by three native fishes: the endangered Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis mionectes; pupfish), endangered Ash Meadows speckled dace (Rhinicthys osculus nevadensis; dace), and Ash Meadows killifish (Empetrichthys merriami). Currently, pupfish are the only native fish present in the system. Ash Meadows killifish have been extinct on the Refuge since the 1950’s and dace have not occurred in the Fairbanks system since the 1970’s.
Additionally, two native snails occur in Fairbanks Spring and its outflow. The Fairbanks springsnail (Pyrgulopsis fairbankensis; snail) only occurs in the Fairbanks system. The Sportinggoods tryonia snail (Tryonia angulata; snail) only occurs in two other spring systems within the Refuge.
In March 2010 three volunteer events (24th, 27th, and 28th) took place along Fairbanks outflow. The purpose of these volunteer events was to salvage pupfish and snails from the old Fairbanks channel (and move them into the new outflow), which was to be abandoned, and to offer the public an opportunity to interact with the fish and snails while assisting with an important restoration project in the Refuge. Volunteers contributed 297 volunteer hours over the three days. In total, 3,150 pupfish and 12,000 endemic snails were salvaged. Additionally, 2,710 non-native red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii; crayfish) were removed.
Text excerpted from a memo by Darrick Weissenfluh. Photos by Harry Konwin