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Big Warm Springs (Ely, NV)

The Duckwater Shoshone Tribe has contracted with StreamWise to develop a restoration plan for the Big Warm Springs near Ely, Nevada. A unique spring system that once harbored the endangered Railroad Valley springfish suffers from past changes in channel location and commercial fish facilities. The tribe is interested in exploring the possibilities of restoring the spring system to its former natural condition. Work to develop this plan was begun in early 2005.

Photo Gallery - click to open thumbnails

Upper section of Channel
Big Warm Springs Headwaters.
 willow growth and floodplain recovery.
Source of secondary Spring.


Diversion structures below headwater springs.

Diversion structures below headwater springs.

2009 Update

The restoration of the main spring channel at Big Warm Springs was completed in fall of 2006.  During this construction phase, the initial eradication of non-native species was done by USFWS and NV Dept of Wildlife personnel.  Follow-up treatments were made to insure complete eradication of predatory species that threaten the Railroad Valley springfish, a federally endangered species native to the warm springs.

The restoration and eradication processes were judged a success by the resource agencies in 2007 and Railroad Valley springfish were reintroduced into the Big Warm Springs.  Since that time, they have proliferated into all areas of the headwater springs and appear to be thriving.
The following photos depict the current status of the spring system as it continues to recover following restoration work.

24
Headwater pool following restoration.  2008

Little Warm Springs

The Duckwater Shoshone Tribe identified the Little Warm Springs as the second highest priority for protection of the Railroad Valley springfish, ranking just below Big Warm Springs.  The success of Big Warm Springs springfish reintroduction supported efforts to restore the habitat features of nearby Little Warm Springs.

In the fall of 2008, StreamWise teamed with the Duckwater Construction crew to restore the historic wetlands surrounding the headwater area of Little Warm Springs.  Past channelization for irrigation purposes placed the entire outflow of the spring into an irrigation ditch.  Restoration design specifications called for partial flow to be returned to the wetland areas below the headwater pools, while the remaining flow continue along the irrigation ditch to a lower wetland area.

By dividing the flow, eight acres of historic wetlands could be filled while maintaining irrigation delivery and water supply to a lush wetland at the lower end of the project.  Eventually, once the wetland habitat values have returned, the irrigation ditch can be abandoned and the Railroad Valley springfish relocated into the expansive wetland complex below the springs. 

Below are a few photos of the project during construction and initial filling of the wetland acreage.

25
DST crew setting irrigation diversion below project site.  Nov. 2008

26
Filled upper wetland (background) with 7.1 acre wetland area (foreground).  Oct. 2008

27
Upper wetland at sunrise.  First day of filled condition.  Oct. 2008

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Nevada completed Big Warm Springs
Little Warm Springs
Edwards Creek Kirtch Wildlife
Management Area
Lockes Ranch West Fork
Walker River
West Fork
Walker Creek
Check Dams
Ruby Lake National
Wildlife Refuge
Oregon Completed Projects Sprague River Cole Property Oregon - Proposed Projects Sprague River