Wetland Program

Nevada is the driest state in the nation, and although wetlands (e.g., wet meadows, seeps and springs, lakes and playas, riparian areas, perennial streams, and intermittent and ephemeral washes) cover less than 5% of Nevada, the ecosystem services they provide are indispensable. Wetlands provide critical habitat for at least 75% of species, including 31 that are threatened or endangered. They are essential for humans as well, by providing water supply and purification; regulation of floods, drought, and land degradation; ground water recharge; stream flow maintenance; soil formation and nutrient cycling; and recreational opportunities and tourism.

Nevada’s Wetland Program works to gather data, collaborate with stakeholders, provide resources, and produce conservation plans to better conserve wetlands statewide. We welcome collaborations and partnerships; please feel free to contact us.

Check out the quick links section to the right to explore our wetlands pages!

Current Projects:

Updating the Nevada Wetland Program Plan (NV WPP) - NDNH is updating the WPP for 2023-2028. We are working with stakeholders to identify statewide wetland goals and priorities to further wetland conservation. If you want to get involved, please email Chantal Iosso.

Inventorying Nevada's rare and pristine wetlands - we are documenting Nevada’s most unique and pristine wetlands across the state. Rare wetlands like vernal pools (precipitation fed, isolated pools that fill in the winter and dry in the summer) and fens (montane wet meadows that have developed a thick layer of organic material over thousands of years) are irreplaceable and often support rare plants and animals. These wetlands are understudied in Nevada and facing threats from climate change. By gathering data on rare wetlands, we will be better equipped to preserve these precious resources.

Ginny Lake Fen, a pristine fen in the Tahoe basin. Photo courtesy of Chantal Iosso.
Ginny Lake Fen, a pristine fen in the Tahoe basin. Photo courtesy of Chantal Iosso.

Pristine examples of common wetland types are ideal to use as references for wetland restoration projects or evaluating the condition of other wetlands. We are working to describe plant assemblages, geomorphology, water quality, and other site characteristics that are diagnostic of healthy wetlands by type.

Nevada Priority Wetland Inventory update - NDNH and the Desert Research Institute (DRI) are working to reevaluate the condition of some of Nevada's most high value and threatened wetlands first identified in a 2007 report.

Springsnail genetics - Springsnails are tiny, aquatic snails that live in springs. The Great Basin has more than a hundred different species of springsnails (and counting), with some species that only exist at a single spring. We are working with the Rocky Mountain Research Station Genomic Lab and the Springsnail Conservation Team to interpret genetic data to better understand the distribution of species. This information is being used to ensure the different species of Springsnails are conserved (see the Nevada and Utah Springsnail Conservation Agreement and Strategy here).

A springsnail on a rock. Photo courtesy of Eric Miskow.
A springsnail collected from a spring in Nevada. Photo courtesy of Eric Miskow.

Spring surveying  - NDNH has contracted with the Springs Stewardship Institute to inventory springs throughout the state, focusing on understudied areas. SSI describes the hydrology, geomorphology, and biology of spring sites and shares the data in their secure database SpringsOnline. Since 2020, they have surveyed over 400 springs in Nevada; hundreds more spring surveys are planned.

WetBar development—WetBar is a GIS-based tool created by Dr. Ken McGwire, a subcontractor at DRI. WetBar integrates satellite imagery with web-based data (such as nearby surface and groundwater levels, drought index, soils, and more) to quickly analyze wetland condition and trends. It is currently available for download in ArcMap here and a web-based application is in development.

Staff Members

  • Chantal Iosso