A new wildlife habitat has been established to benefit both animals and people. The Argenta Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located along the Humboldt River, approximately north of Battle Mountain, where Rock Creek enters the river. The Nevada Department of Wildlife built it with assistance from the Nevada Division of State Lands, Lander County, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
It is a natural location for everyone to enjoy, especially the Battle Mountain residents. Anyone can walk inside the WMA. Its roads are already being used for recreation and bird observation. The NDOW has created a riverbank grass picnic area with tables for visitors to enjoy.
The WMA contains a lot of water in the main river and along historic meanders, sloughs, and canals during a regular year. There are at least 93 species of birds documented so far. Rio Grande turkeys were introduced when the region was still a functioning ranch. The habitat is also used by pheasants, quail, willow flycatchers, tundra swans, sandhill cranes, and migrating waterfowl. The WMA’s 1,568 acres are home to mule deer, elk, and pronghorn antelope.
Jeremy Lutz is an NDOW habitat wildlife biologist and the WMA’s manager. He informed me that the area had a long history as a functioning ranch, the Licking Ranch, before it was bought by NDOW. NDOW recognizes the property’s agricultural value and plans to keep agriculture as a significant component of its management.
NDOW has requested bids to hay its wet meadows and graze cattle from November to March 15 of each year. The successful lessee will be able to winter cattle on the WMA by rotating them across four pastures. This individual will flood irrigate hay fields during normal water years.
Jeremy stated that no big modifications to WMA management would be done for a few years as NDOW learns about this scenario.
Weeds are a concern in any region along the Humboldt River. NDOW has already began spraying weeds on the Wildlife Management Area since gaining possession in March. This summer, NDOW sprayed 1,000 acres to minimize white top and knapweed.
The Wildlife Management Area requires extensive water rights to produce the wildlife and agricultural assets present there. NDOW was able to acquire 960 acres of water rights on the WMA and lease an additional 3,000 acres from Lander County for agricultural use. The county sees this project as a boon for Battle Mountain residents and the general public, and has been a strong backer of it.
According to Jeremy, the goal of this effort is not to restore a portion of the Argenta Marsh, but “maybe this region will illustrate what the Argenta Marsh looked like when it existed.” Along its various sloughs and channels, there are numerous willow banks, trees, and cattail and reed beds.”
Credits: Elko Daily
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