Land and Water

Lahontan Dam

Lahontan Dam and Reservoir stores the natural flow of the Carson River and additional waters diverted from the Truckee River via Derby Dam and the Truckee Canal. It is the distribution point of irrigation waters that make the desert bloom. Located in Churchill County, this key feature of the Truckee-Carson Irrigation Project is now known as the Newlands Project. Lahontan Dam was built during the early years of the twentieth century in response to the 1902 passage of the Federal Reclamation Act. Construction on the dam proper began in 1911 and was completed in late 1915.


Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is located near the center of Nevada, among the pinyon pines and junipers of the Shoshone Mountains, off a path already off the beaten path.

Ice Age Nevada and Lake Lahontan

Between about 25,000 and 11,000 years ago, Nevada's late ice age climate was much cooler and wetter than today. While glaciers only occupied mountain ranges, much of the vegetation was similar to that of today, although it was found in different settings. This interval represents the end of the Wisconsin Stage of North America's Pleistocene geologic period, and it is well represented by the Nevada's paleontology and geology.

Hot Spring Resorts in Northern Nevada

A massive hydrothermal belt interspersed with hot springs runs north and south along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada. Explorers and immigrants trekking across the Great Basin discovered hot springs in their travels and bathed in the water if it was not scalding. Heated mineral water was, and still is, believed to have curative properties. By the time communities were established near the western Great Basin's Carson Range in the 1850s, early settlers had claimed most of the hydrothermal springs in the region.

Hoover Dam's Impact on Las Vegas

The United States government's construction of Hoover Dam, a hydroelectric and reservoir project started on the Colorado River in 1931, was one of the most important developments in Las Vegas history, dramatically affecting its population to the present.

Hoover Dam Construction

Hoover Dam, often called Boulder Dam, is located on the Colorado River at the southern tip of Nevada and the Arizona border. In the early 1900s, after many failed efforts to control the lower Colorado River with levees and irrigation canals, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation decided the best solution for the arid Southwest would be to dam the river and create a year-round water supply. Surveyors investigated seventy sites along the entire river's course and settled on Nevada's Boulder and Black Canyons, both offering a potential reservoir of more than thirty million acre-feet.

Hares of Nevada

There are three species of hares (genus Lepus) native to Nevada: the blacktail jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), the whitetail jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii), and the snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus). Of these, the blacktail is the most widely distributed within the state.

Greater Sage-Grouse

Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) are large, chicken-like birds found in sagebrush habitats in the western United States. They are the largest North American grouse—males weigh up to 7 lbs—and are known for the impressive aggregations of displaying males at traditional mating sites (leks.) Recently, the decline of these charismatic birds has been associated with the loss or degradation of sagebrush habitats.

Great Basin Bristlecone Pine

The Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva,) Nevada's state tree, includes the oldest living trees in the world (maximum recorded age of 4,844 years.) This species is characteristic of the subalpine zone in some Great Basin mountain ranges where it is the dominant tree species along with limber pine (Pinus flexilis). Present in many of the high ranges of Eastern Nevada, it is absent from most of Central Nevada west of the Monitor Range and from the northern ranges.

Great Basin Alpine Vegetation

Alpine tundra is broadly defined as the zone of low-growing herbaceous or shrubby plants found above the tree line (the uppermost elevation where trees occur). This definition is inadequate for the Great Basin, where subalpine forest is not always present to form a tree line. A more apt definition of alpine tundra in Nevada is the zone above the upper limit of sagebrush-dominated shrublands. Although many of Nevada's mountains rise above the upper limit of trees, most of these are covered in mountain brush or a sparse cover of low sagebrush.


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