This site consists of a complex of several catclaw acacia washes that run down Piute Valley (primarily west of Hwy 95) and along the crest and eastern flanks of the Newberry Mountains. Specifically, the washes included are Hiko Wash and Springs, and Piute, Roman, Sacatone, and Grapevine Washes. Sacatone and Grapevine Washes are on National Park Service Lands (Lake Mead National Recreation Area), while the remaining washes are on Bureau of Land Management Lands.
These washes rarely sustain surface flows except in times of flash floods, and for short stretches below perennial springs. However, wash vegetation is distinctly different from adjacent uplands and is characterized by more mesic species than those encountered in immediately adjacent uplands. The latter tends to offer creosote bush and various species of yucca. The washes support catclaw acacia, mesquite, cottonwood, desert willow, and sandbar willow which are species that are indicative of ground water resources that are within reach of plant roots.
Land uses in the catclaw washes range from nature and wildlife conservation to hunting, various forms of recreation, research, and utility corridors.
The unique vegetation of the washes supports a suite of bird species that is distinct from the surrounding desert, although it should be noted that birds from the desert uplands may also utilize these areas. The washes were nominated and recognized for the critical resources they offer to Phainopepla, a species of concern in Nevada. Phainopepla rely heavily on the mistletoe seed crop produced in these areas, the mistletoe in turn is dependent on the catclaw acacia and mesquite as hosts. The Phainopepla also nest in the acacia and mesquite.
The densities of Phainopeplas at this site are consistently among the highest in the state (only two other sites have comparable densities), and in some years, breeding success in Piute Valley is higher than anywhere else known. Moreover, the milder temperatures at this complex of sites may help Phainopeplas persist when they cannot occupy other sites in the state (sub-freezing temperatures cause mistletoe berries to freeze, leaving the birds nothing to eat).
Many other species of concern in Southern Nevada utilize the tall shrubs and trees found in these washes. Several washes (especially Piute) are many kilometers long and likely provide migration corridors. Birds utilizing these washes as stopover sites for migration gain opportunities for foraging, resting, and accessing surface water where it is available.
roads, utility right-of-way. mining. undeveloped.