Wetlands are the link between land and water – where the flow of water, the cycling of nutrients, and the energy of the sun meet to create highly productive ecosystems with unique plant and animal life. In broad terms, wetlands refer to all wet areas that provide ecosystem services and habitat for plants, wildlife, and aquatic species, including wet meadows, seeps and springs, playas, and riparian areas. Often referred to as the “kidneys” of a watershed, wetlands are renowned for their ability to remove toxic substances, excess nutrients, and harmful pollutants from the water.

Understanding the vital importance of wetlands to Nevada’s ecological, economic, and social health, the Nevada Division of Natural Heritage (NDNH), within the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, is excited to advance its Wetland Program by leveraging a $516,771 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Over the next two years, NDNH will expand its inventory and assessment of Nevada’s wetlands, conduct field studies focused on Nevada’s wetland-dependent plant and wildlife species, and leverage the best available science and climate data with increased partner collaboration. NDNH is currently working with numerous partners – including the Museum of Northern Arizona’s Springs Stewardship Institute, Desert Research Institute, and The Nature Conservancy – and providing sub-grants to help fund innovative wetland projects throughout Nevada.

As the driest state in the nation, Nevada’s Wetland Program will play an ever-important role in protecting our limited water resources, while advancing cutting-edge research that centers on fostering climate change resilient wetlands in all parts of Nevada. Through the Wetland Program, a wide array of collective efforts will help inform key decisions and strategies for the conservation, restoration, and protection of Nevada’s precious wetland ecosystems.

Wetlands serve as a lifeline to many of Nevada’s diverse species. Though wetlands cover a relatively small amount of land in Nevada, the benefits of these biological powerhouses – including improved water quality, increased water storage/supply, reduced flood and storm surge risk, and essential habitat for plants and wildlife – are indispensable to the Silver State. More than 300 native animal species, such as the bald eagle and northern river otter, and over 50 native plant species are dependent upon Nevada’s wetland habitats for all or a portion of the lifecycle. Additionally, approximately two-thirds of Nevada species listed as state or federally threatened or endangered live exclusively in wetlands, while dozens more wetland-dependent species are considered sensitive or rare.

Go here to learn more about Nevada’s wetlands: heritage.nv.gov/ecology.