SNPLMA funds Pahrump poolfish habitat improvements

Pahrump poolfish in an aquarium.
Two Pahrump Pool Fish in an aquarium

The Bristlecone Field Office was awarded Round 15 Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA) funds to improve habitat for the Federally Endangered Pahrump poolfish at the Shoshone Ponds Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), in Spring Valley. Over the last five years, the BLM has been working collaboratively with the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to develop habitat enhancement plans and implementing the project. There are three locations at the Shoshone Ponds that provide habitat for the Pahrump poolfish: the refuge ponds, the stockpond, and the springbrook which all needed improvements to ensure sustainable Pahrump poolfish populations.

 

Two people in a pond catching juvenile parhump pool fish to relocate them
NDOW wildlife biologist and a construction
contractornetting juvenile Pahrump poolfish
to be relocated fromthe refuge pond to another
location.

The refuge ponds was constructed in 1972 jointly by the BLM, NDOW, and USFWS to serve as a refugium for Pahrump poolfish and other sensitive fish. Over the last 40 years, the ponds have decreased substantially in size, and therefore fish habitat, due to vegetation encroachment and siltation. Populations in the three ponds have been steadily declining. In 2020, the project commenced with first salvaging and relocating the fish while the three ponds were pumped and drained. Once all fish and northern leopard frogs were removed from harm’s way, construction began. The final design was to combine all three ponds and make one large pond with an overflow channel into a meadow. In the summer of 2021, Pahrump poolfish have been reintroduced into their new and improved habitat and both fish and frogs are flourishing. It is unknown how the Pahrump poolfish ended up in the stockpond but is currently the largest population in Nevada. An artesian well that supplies water to the stockpond was likely constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930’s. In 2014, the artesian well stopped flowing likely due to drought and irrigation and there were seepage issues through the bottom of the stockpond. In 2017, BLM installed a solar powered submersible pump to ensure there was a consistent supply of water to the stockpond. In 2021, the fish and northern leopard frogs were salvaged and relocated while the stockpond was drained. Construction consisted of deepening the existing pond and adding a pond liner to stop the seepage. Fish will be reintroduced to the stockpond the summer of 2022.

 

A constructed springbrook with the mountains and trees and grasses in the background
Final construction of the springbrook.

The springbrook flows from another artesian well that was also likely constructed by the CCC in the 1930’s. It is believed Pahrump poolfish ended up in the system by an overflow event from the refuge ponds. Construction on the springbrook also took place in 2021, adding numerous small pools connected by channels. The final stages of the project include seeding the disturbed areas and installing an educational kiosk. The Shoshone Ponds ACEC will continue to provide a reliable home to the endangered Pahrump poolfish.

 

 

Pond with rocks surrounding it and trees in the background
Final refuge pond one year later.