Jenniffer Solis

(Nevada Current) Nevada’s springs are especially vulnerable to drought and climate change, but the fragile habitats are getting a helping hand thanks to the largest investment in climate resilience in the nation’s history.

Last week, federal land managers announced $51 million in investments for 30 new environmental water resource projects in 11 states, including one in Nevada.

The collaborative projects will focus on water conservation, water management and restoration efforts that will benefit the ecosystem or watershed health.

In Nevada, the Southern Nevada Water Authority was granted more than $740,000 to rehabilitate the Warm Springs Natural Area in Moapa, a 1,250 acre downstream habitat of more than 20 perennial springs that form the headwaters of the Muddy River.

The regionally significant ecosystem provides habitat for several protected and sensitive species, including the endangered Moapa dace, endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, and threatened yellow-billed cuckoo.

Federal land managers said the much-needed rehabilitation project will widen major riparian corridors along 0.3 miles of the Muddy River’s main channel. Mesquite bosques will also be established along the corridors, creating about 12 acres of new habitat that will improve hydraulic conditions and reduce erosion and sedimentation during flood events.

The project is expected to lessen wildfire risk by removing invasive grasses and replacing them with native vegetation to restore the area to the natural habitat that existed before the area was converted for agricultural purposes.

Funding for the projects will be provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and managed by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation.

“Adequate, resilient and safe water supplies are fundamental to the health, economy and security of every community in our nation,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “The Interior Department is focused on ensuring that funding through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is going to collaborative projects throughout the West that will benefit the American people.”

The Bureau of Reclamation is investing a total of $8.3 billion over five years for water infrastructure projects, including rural water, water storage, conservation, dam safety, water recycling, and desalination. During the first two years, the agency invested almost $2.8 billion on more than 370 water infrastructure projects.

“These types of projects and robust cooperation with stakeholders are helping to improve watershed health and increase water reliability and access for families, farmers, and Tribes,” said Reclamation Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Brain.