On June 19, 2023, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced $33 million in grants to restore, protect, and enhance riparian and watershed resources in the greater Desert Terminal Lakes geography in Nevada.
The grants will support voluntary water acquisitions in the Pyramid Lake, Summit Lake, and Walker Lake basins to help recover these unique ecosystems to restore endemic fish and wildlife species, communities and Tribes, such as the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe.
The grants were awarded under a Desert Terminal Lakes (DTL) funding agreement between NFWF and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The new grants will restore natural flows and revitalize ecosystem health in at-risk natural desert terminal lakes.
Priority strategies under this funding partnership include voluntary water transactions and water management initiatives, community-based conservation and stewardship, and applied research and demonstration projects.
“We are excited to work with the Pyramid and Summit Lake Paiute Tribes and support their efforts to accomplish conservation priorities, including the recovery of endangered cui-ui and threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF.
“This funding will also support ongoing restoration of Walker Lake and provide significant and long-lasting benefits to important freshwater ecosystems in Northwest Nevada,” he added.
A terminal lake is formed at the endpoint of an enclosed watershed basin. These lakes have no outlets and, therefore, are greatly affected by variations in water flows caused by upstream activities, such as diversions of surface water, groundwater pumping and changes in the hydrologic cycle.
“The Summit Lake Paiute Tribe is excited and grateful for the award and to work directly with NFWF, which maximizes the agility of the partnership and the funding to our Tribe,” said James Simmons, natural resources director for the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe.
“The award supports a multi-pronged strategic project that will make significant inroads toward securing the ecological and cultural heritage of the Tribe via increasing the resiliency of the Lahontan cutthroat trout populations, the overall lake ecosystem, and the Tribe’s operational capacity,” he explained.
DTL funding was originally established by Public Law 101-171 in 2002 to provide water to a unique collection of at-risk natural desert terminal lakes in the northwestern Great Basin.
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats.
Working with federal, corporate, foundation and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 6,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $8.1 billion.
Photo of Walker Lake courtesy of NFWF.