Photos and Article By: Cathy Kozmary and Andrea Wirth
The Red Rock Audubon Society (RRAS) organized a group of volunteers who spent a morning on March 27th filling in open fence posts in the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge (https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Pahranagat/). Red Rock Audubon’s mission is to bring people together for the conservation and enjoyment of birds, other wildlife, and the natural world throughout Southern Nevada and neighboring areas. This event is a part of ensuring this mission is accomplished.
Under the direction of Jim Boone, who has been leading the effort in Southern Nevada to remove mine markers, (find the full story here : https://birdandhike.wordpress.com/2020/01/30/removing-hollow-pipe-mining-claim-markers-from-gold-butte-national-monument/), the group was taught about the threat of mine markers/hollow fence posts, and the basics of how to fill them or knock them down. Animals perish if they go down these markers or posts, in search of food, nest habitat or by accident. Lizards, bees, birds (in the hundreds or thousands) have been found dead in the open pipes.
Rob Vinson, refuge manager, and Jessica Samuelson, visitor services specialist, at the refuge, introduced the team to the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. We learned the difference between national parks and national wildlife refuges. National parks focus on people and their enjoyment of nature. The national wildlife refuge network focuses on animals, each refuge having a unique animal as its focus. In Pahranagat, it is ducks! So all work and programs at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge are done for the benefit of ducks. At the Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge, it is the Moapa Dace (https://www.fws.gov/refuge/moapa_valley/). Rob let us know that today’s focus would be Alamo Road which has about 15 fence posts in need of filing.
The process to fill a fence post is straightforward – find the post, check that it’s empty, fill a preferably square bucket with as much dirt you can carry, pour the dirt into the fence post, put a rock on top of the fence post, and then restore the area where the dirt was removed. Then find the next fence post. With a team of 15 volunteers, we managed to complete the work in less than two hours after which we had lunch whilst observing a few birds – Red-tailed Hawk, Turkey Vulture, American Kestrel, Rough-winged Swallows – all made an appearance.
After lunch the group enjoyed birding the lakes of the refuge which offer a huge variety of bird species. It is located on the Pacific migratory flyway providing critical habitat for birds during these long journeys. The refuge is a fantastic place to enjoy nature with a visitor center (currently closed), campgrounds, hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and much much more.
Learn about Pahranagat NWR (note some areas including the Visitor’s Center are currently closed due to nearby construction)
Recent ebird lists from Pahranagat (North Marsh, Middle Marsh, Lower Lake, general area)
Learn more about hazards of mine markers and other hollow pipes to local wildlife
Federal Duck Stamp Program supports National Wildlife Refuges