Spring is a time of rejuvenation in the Amargosa Basin. As the days begin to warm, the dense mesquite-willow groves of the Amargosa wetlands begin to green up, and a dozen different bird songs fill the air. Creosote on the bajadas blooms bright and golden against the low soft hills. Wildflowers begin to wake from their winter dormancy and produce their first buds.
But as with everything in the desert, so much depends on rain. Not every spring brings the riot of wildflower blooms that people from around the world travel to the desert to witness and photograph. January, February and March were the driest first three months of the year in California history, an expression of just how intense this protracted megadrought is in the American West. The Amargosa Basin has not escaped this drought. With only scant precipitation over the winter months, life in the Amargosa is bracing for what is almost certainly going to be an intensely dry and hot summer season.
The drought has compelled our organization in three urgent directions. And we urgently need your support to pursue them.
First, we are engaging in groundwater management policy decisions that will have significant impact on the future of the Amargosa Basin. This month, we’ll be presenting at a public hearing on Order 1330 from the Nevada State Engineer’s office. This order presents a big change to how groundwater is managed in the watershed, specifically around the Devils Hole in Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge overseen by Death Valley National Park. Our mission is to impress upon decision makers how absolutely crucial sustainable groundwater management is, especially given how pronounced the drought has been in recent years. We will be advocating for the development of a landscape-scale plan for how we’re going to sustain our most precious natural resource that all life, human and non-human alike, depends on in the Amargosa Basin: water.
The second direction we’re moving toward is increased monitoring of groundwater resources throughout the Basin. The Amargosa Watershed is one of the most unique hydrological systems in the world and the interconnectedness of the underground aquifers that feed the springs in the region is just beginning to be understood. The Amargosa Conservancy has played an integral role in funding and conducting hydrological research and monitoring to improve our understanding of the watershed. Now more than ever, land managers and researchers need data tracking on-the-ground changes to the water table, especially in areas where endangered and threatened species depend on that water for their habitat. We’re pursuing projects that will enable us to provide critical information to land managers in hopes of supporting a more scientific and sustainable approach to conservation in the Basin.
The third direction we’re moving toward is working to understand and communicate the effects of climate change in the Amargosa Basin and throughout the region. In June, our executive director Mason Voehl will be undertaking leadership trainings through Climate Reality, an organization whose mission is to “recruit, train, and mobilize people to become powerful activists, providing the skills, campaigns, and resources to push for aggressive climate action and high-level policies that accelerate a just transition to clean energy.” As a conservancy working to preserve extremely biodiverse wetlands in an increasingly warm and arid desert landscape, we believe the only path forward is to understand and communicate the seriousness of the climate crisis unfolding all around us.
We know these are challenging times for a growing number of reasons, and we know that every gift we receive comes from the result of your hard work and selfless generosity. We don’t take it lightly, and we never take it for granted. But when you give to the Amargosa Conservancy, you can be sure that every dollar we receive goes towards our ability to fight the good fight for this incredible place we love. Please consider giving what you can today so that we can continue to be stewards and advocates of the Amargosa Basin.