The Carson Range is a spur of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and represents the entire occurrence of the Sierra Nevada ecoregion in the state of Nevada. Of the entire Carson Range, about 70 percent lies in Nevada and the remainder in California; this IBA address only the Nevada portion. The Sierra Meadows Northern IBA, a complex of sites, lies adjacent to the Carson Range IBA in California (Cooper 2004), and includes portions of the Carson Range.

Ornithological Summary

In considering the Carson Range IBA, two scales of evaluation are appropriate. In the context of Nevada, the site supports a unique avifaunal community associated with the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Species such as Pygmy Nuthatch, Band-tailed Pigeon, Mountain Quail, Pileated Woodpecker, White-headed Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker, and Winter Wren either occur nowhere else in the state or show up in far lower numbers in nearby ranges (the Winter Wren also appears to breed in the Jarbidge Mountains IBA). All of these species hold far more extensive ranges in the California portion of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. However, Nevada does hold some responsibility for the stewardship of these species, and any conservation efforts on behalf of these species will by definition have to occur in the Carson Range.
On a larger geographic scale, considering the entire range of the aforementioned species and the broader avifauna of the IBA, many of the species that characterize the Carson Range have status as species of conservation concern. Mountain Quail, Northern Goshawk, Cooper's Hawk, Flammulated Owl, Calliope Hummingbird, Lewis' Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, White-headed Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Western Bluebird, Orange-crowned, MacGillivray's, and Wilson's Warblers, and Black Rosy Finch are all NV Partners in Flight species of concern that rely on this landscape for various aspects of their life histories. The species of interest list broadens considerably if the Audubon Watch list, USFWS Species of Concern, and A1/B1 species list that drives the selection of Global and Continental IBAs are all consulted.

Conservation Issues

A severe human caused wildfire burned an extensive area on the east slope of the Carson Range IBA in 2004. Active restoration is underway and is likely to be largely successful. Very little old growth forest is left (most having been cut during the Comstock Mining Era), so this type can be disproportionately impacted by stochastic events. Much thinning is being done especially in the Tahoe Basin in an effort to reduce fuels and the severity of fire events.

In 2007, the Angora Fire, located in South Lake Tahoe in the Carson Range burned 3100 acres of old growth timber. 


Primarily held under the management of the USDA Forest Service, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Also includes Nevada State Park lands (Spooner Lake, Sand Harbor). Various size parcels of private lands interspersed throughout.


Wide variety of Sierra montane habitats. Several perrenial streams and the headwaters of the Carson and Truckee Rivers. Includes some of the eastern shoreline of Lake Tahoe. Not represented in the above figures are some developed lands. Concentrations of human habitation (e.g., South Lake, Incline Village) are not included within the IBA, but more isolated and smaller developments fall within the boundary, including low intensity infrastructure associated with the two State Parks.

Land Use

Land uses range widely from full protection in the Mount Rose Wilderness, to low density residential development at the edge of small communities.

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