Wildlife Biologist Nancy Herms receives BLM’s Conservation Project Award

Story by Chris Hanefeld, BLM Ely District public affairs specialist. Photos by Nancy Herms, BLM Bristlecone Field Office wildlife biologist.

Federally endangered Pahrump poolfish are flourishing in eastern Nevada’s Spring Valley due to an interagency habitat enhancement project coordinated by BLM Bristlecone Field Office Wildlife Biologist Nancy Herms, this year’s recipient of the BLM’s Conservation Project Award.

Profile of Nancy Herms
Nancy Herms, wildlife biologist for the BLM Ely District, Bristlecone Field Office

“Nancy’s love of wildlife and steadfast dedication to conservation have greatly improved the overall quality of the Shoshone Ponds, enhancing its suitability as a refugium for this federally endangered species. Her actions have improved ecological function in Spring Valley, ensured the future of the Pahrump poolfish, and will benefit wildlife for years to come,” said Bristlecone Field Manager Jared Bybee.

Pahrump poolfish swimming
The Federally endangered Pahrump poolfish

Shoshone Ponds, approximately 30 miles southeast of Ely, Nevada in White Pine County, is an Area of Critical Environmental Concern, partly because of the endangered fish which was relocated from southern Nevada in the 1970s due to habitat loss. In the ensuing 40-plus years, conditions at Shoshone Ponds also changed. The three refuge ponds substantially decreased in size due to vegetation encroachment and siltation, resulting in declining fish populations. In summer 2020, Herms’ team relocated the fish and drained and combined the three ponds into one. Reintroduced the following year, the fish are thriving. 

Two men netting fish in the muddy pond
Herms’ team in 2020 relocated fish in the refuge ponds. The fish were returned the following year and are flourishing.
A machine shoveling dirt
After the fish were relocated and the water was drained, the team combined the three refuge ponds into one.

In 2021, fish were removed and the stockpond drained and deepened. A liner was added to prevent seepage. The fish will be reestablished this summer. Also in 2021, the springbrook was altered to include numerous small pools with connecting channels. A solar-powered submersible pump supplying water to the stockpond has also been replaced. Still to be finished, are seeding the disturbed areas and installing an educational kiosk.

The Pahrump Poolfish Habitat Enhancement Project is a collaborative effort by the Ely District’s Bristlecone Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife, and private landowners. Funding was provided through Round 15 of the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act. 

a clear blue pond surrounded by rocks with mountains in the background
The completed refuge pond in August 2021.

“This project is a prime example of multiple agencies working together to benefit wildlife habitat and protect a species from possible extinction,” said Ely District Manager Robbie McAboy.