Ruby Lake NWR is located in a closed basin at the southern end of Ruby Valley in northeastern Nevada. The refuge consists of a pristine marsh bordered by meadows, grasslands, shrub steppe, and playa. The 20,000 acre seasonal and permanent marsh is a mosaic of bulrush, open water, and islands. The refuge is 18 miles long and 3 miles wide at its widest point. Over 200 springs flow into the marsh. The refuge is administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The primary purposes of the area as a refuge, sanctuary, and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. The refuge is one of the most important areas for wildlife in the Great Basin.
The refuge supports over 225 species of birds. The refuge supports numerous priority bird species including Greater Sage Grouse and several species of warblers. The refuge becomes increasingly vital during drought periods as other areas become dry. The breeding canvasback population is the largest west of the Mississippi River (excluding AK) and highest concentration of nesting canvasbacks in the world. Spring mean population of waterfowl is 8,181, fall mean population is 16,545 swans, geese, and ducks. Mean breeding population of swans, geese, and ducks is 3,260 pairs with a mean production of 6,324. Highest nesting density of Greater Sandhill Crane in northeastern NV (and, therefore, probably the entire state).
Burning as a critical management tool may be threatened in the near-term. Predation by coyotes is increasing and threatening to eliminate reproduction in some species (e.g., sandhill cranes). non-native game fish have altered ecosystem.