Desert National Wildlife Refuge is about 20-30 miles west of the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, accessible primarily on remote, unpaved back roads.
As noted recently in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is warning people not to drive on the Alamo road in the area.
Agency officials say the road is “very hazardous” in one particular stretch in the northern part of the 1.6 million acre refuge, about half of which is in Lincoln County.
“The road has turned to powder where it crosses Desert Dry Lake and the chances of getting stuck there are very good,” said Christy Smith of the Refuge complex.
Rob Vinson, manager of the Pahranagat, and Moapa Valley National Refuges told the Record, “On the west side of the dry lake is a section where vehicles are just getting stuck in the sand too deep to drive out of.”
The warning to motorists is because there is no, or very limited, cell service in the remote area, no water, and slim chances of being found quickly.
Vinson said, “The Alamo road is a very touristy road, lot of people go down it just to do recreational driving. but the road also goes through that stretch of the dry lake and you can’t get off it. You are not supposed to go off the existing roads in a wildlife refuge. We are wanting to warn people of conditions out there that may not be suitable for those who are not prepared. Nobody really anticipates getting stuck, and with the temperatures being as hot as it is a person needs to be aware.”
He said, “From the Pahranagat Refuge, you can drive on the Alamo Road all the way the Desert Refuge Visitors Center at Corn Creek, it’s about 72 miles. But you are not allowed to take ATVs on refuge lands and have to stay on the existing road.”
Vinson said for anyone venturing along the Alamo Road, “take plenty of water, a spare tire and recovery equipment, such as a jack, a wench, a come-along, or a buddy in a second vehicle that you could hook up to and pull yourself out if you do get stuck.”
It is also always wise to not go there without letting someone know where you are going and for how long an expected time period.
Youth Conservation Corp
Five teens, three boys and two girls, from Alamo are working again this summer at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge.
Manager Rob Vinson said they are now starting their summer banding program for waterfowl and they hope to have a float in the Alamo 4th of July parade.
Under the direction of crew leader Dominique Slone there are about 15 projects to work on at the three refuges with which they are involved, Pahranagat, Moapa Valley and Desert.
“We also have been collecting the aluminum grates off the water control structures,” Vinson said. “We are beginning to tear the levies down and do a restoration project and the YCC kids have been removing the grates from the structures and take out the water control structures. We are replacing the individual stop logs, six-inch boards that helps adjust the water level that is in the marshes. We are cleaning out the silt in front, removing the old boards that are not working anymore and some have completely rotted, so we are replacing them with aluminum boards.”
Vinson said during the recent heat wave, some of their work later in the day takes place in the shop area near the visitor’s center. “We also want to improve some of the signage on their Refuge. We do an educational component with the kids and have them become CPR certified.”
In regards to the numbers of visitors at both the Visitors Center and the campgrounds at the Upper Lake, Vinson said, “It looks like we are above average this year. We are going to beat what our projected numbers were. I’ll know more when we start tabulating the numbers off our counters.”
The refuge and the YCC employees are also currently involved in banding ducks and geese in the area. “The birds are molting right now,” Vinson said, “they can’t fly right now, so it’s the best time to herd as many as we can catch into holding pens where they can be banded with a metal ring around one leg with a number entered into a computer database at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland that shows all the pertinent information about any given bird.”
He said lately, the banding program has shown that the Mallard Duck population at the Refuge does not migrate very far, maybe only as far as Fallon. “Many are here year round. We banded 60 Mallards last year, and only five of those were taken by duck hunters outside of the Pahranagat Valley.”
And he added, “That data tells us we may have a sensitive population and if we ever need to, it might justify, if necessary, applying a more restrictive Mallard duck hunting limit at Pahranagat.”