In the name of increasing the presence of indigenous birds like the willow flycatcher and the yellow-billed cuckoo in the Middle Carson River area, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation recently donated $15,000 to promote growth of cottonwood trees.
The trees thrive in wet areas like the Carson River and new tree growth is essential to maintaining the presence of indigenous birds. To support the habitat, the Lahontan Audubon Society proclaimed the Middle Carson River one of nine regional "important bird areas. "
"The Middle Carson River area has been recognized as being one in the portfolio of sites most critical to the survival and maintenance of bird populations in Nevada," said Don McIvor, Nevada director of bird conservation for the Nevada Important Bird Area Program of the Lahontan Audubon Society.
"What it means for the Middle Carson in particular is that recognition will result in increased priority in the minds of the landowners, all federal or state agencies, in terms of maintenance and improvement of that habitat."
The 3,000 acres designated as "important" along the Middle Carson River incorporate the floodplain of the river, and extend from Fort Churchill to Lahontan Reservoir. Much of the land is state-owned.
"The area will not be restricted, " McIvor said. "That is not a goal of this program. We would encourage people to bird watch, and hopefully tell us what they find."
Agencies in the area allow camping, birding, horseback riding and limited hunting. Volunteers currently are banding birds to learn more about the types of bird species in the area.
The decrease in the understory, which consists of shrubs, grasses and new tree growth, is due to trespass-grazing and the explosion of the wild horse herd population, according to McIvor. The middle story consists of middle-aged cottonwoods in the 15- to 25-foot range. Both need replenishing.
The society will spend the $15,000 given by the Bureau of Reclamation on fencing to protect the understory. McIvor approximates that $40,000 will be needed to promote habitat to bring the presence of bird species back to normal.