Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, established June 18, 1984, is located approximately 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas in the Amargosa Valley of southern Nye County, Nevada. To date, over 22,000 acres of spring-fed wetlands and alkaline desert uplands are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Refuge is a major discharge point for a vast underground aquifer system stretching 100 miles to the northeast. Water-bearing strata comes to the surface in more than 30 seeps and springs, providing a rich and complex variety of habitats. Over 10,000 gallons per minute flow year round, most of which comes from seven major springs: Fairbanks, Rogers, Longstreet, Crystal, Point of Rocks, Jackrabbit, and Big Springs. The reason for this abundance of water in an otherwise dry and desolate region is the presence of a geological fault. The movement of this particular fault acts as an "underground dam," blocking the flow of water and forcing it to the surface. The water arriving at Ash Meadows is called "fossil" water, because it is believed to have entered the ground water system thousands of years ago.
In addition to all of the endemic species, a few pairs of endangered Southwestern willow flycatchers use Ash Meadows as breeding habitat from June through August each year. Two endangered species success stories, the peregrine falcon and bald eagle also use Ash Meadows seasonally as a migration stop over.
Over 239 different species of birds have been recorded on the refuge. Migration periods are best for greatest diversity and numbers. Spring migration usually occurs during April and May, and fall migration from mid-August through September. During the winter, marshes and reservoirs support the largest variety of water birds. Mesquite and ash tree groves at Refuge Headquarters and Point of Rocks harbor resident and migratory birds year-round, including typical Southwestern species such as crissal thrasher, verdin, phainopepla, and Lucy's warbler. A refuge bird list is available at the headquarters and online. (http://desertcomplex.fws.gov/ashmeadows/wildlife.htm)