Nevada Gets Green Light to Drill for Water in Desert National Wildlife Refuge

Desert Refuge Identified as One of Nation’s Ten Most Endangered Wildlife Refuges in Report Recently Released by Defenders of Wildlife

(01/05/2005) - Washington, D.C. – Plans to drill for water within Nevada’s Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex moved closer to realty yesterday when the Nevada State Engineer granted the Southern Nevada Water Authority permission to drill seven groundwater wells within and around the Refuge. Pumping from the proposed wells could potentially damage springs and streams containing habitat for endangered species, including many that are found nowhere else.

"Wildlife refuges are for wildlife," said Brian Segee, staff attorney for Defenders of Wildlife "The Desert Refuge is the largest wildlife refuge in the lower 48 states and one of Nevada’s greatest natural treasures. This is the last place the state should be looking to drill."

Only 25 miles from Las Vegas, the 1.5-million-acre Desert Complex encompasses four distinct refuges—the Desert Range, Ash Meadows, Moapa Valley and Pahranagat. The area supports wildlife ranging from the bighorn sheep to several species of endangered fish.

The Desert Refuge was among ten wildlife refuges listed in a report titled, "Refuges at Risk: America’s Ten Most Endangered National Wildlife Refuges 2004" released last October by Defenders of Wildlife. The report listed the primary threat to the Refuge as the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plans to develop groundwater.


Defenders of Wildlife is a leading nonprofit conservation organization recognized as one of the nation's most progressive advocates for wildlife and wildlife habitat. With more than 480,000 members and supporters nationwide, Defenders is an effective leader on conservation issues. For timely information on these issues, visit and subscribe to DENLines, a free e-mail alert newsletter.



William Lutz, (202) 772-0269