Saturday, March 16, 2019

Desert National Wildlife Refuge - Dec 2018 - Feb 2019

The Desert National Wildlife Refuge (DNWR) is an amazing place.  Located only 15 miles from the first suburbs of Northwest Las Vegas, it covers 1.5 million acres of desert, Yucca forest, and forested mountains up to almost 10,000’.  Managed as a wilderness area, the refuge is an almost unknown area of beauty and solitude just miles from over 2 million people. 

DNWR is one of four refuges in a complex that includes Ash Meadows, Pahranagat, and Moapa refuges. We applied in response to a listing in, were interviewed by the Visitor Services Coordinator in Las Vegas, and started in late November.  Our job was to staff the visitor center and develop and conduct outreach programs.  

Our site was very nice; a concrete pad with full hookups (50A), picnic table, and fire ring.  There are only two pads and the other was occupied by a maintenance volunteer.  The pads are convenient to the visitor center and next to a small areas of trees to provide some shade and a windbreak.

Our “contract” required that we each work 24 hours for the site, which is pretty much the standard for US F&W.  We were schedule for most of those in the visitor center from Friday thru Monday, with Tues, Wed, and Thurs our days off.  

The visitor center was only four years old and part of the office complex.  It was amazing; great displays, interactive exhibits, and a theater room.  Outside was a network of trails through a spring-fed riparian area with interpretive signs, a historic cabin, and a “refugium” that housed endangered Pahrump Pool fish.  

We were tasked with taking the “Junior Duck Stamp” program to two Las Vegas locations, the Clark County Wetlands and the Springs Preserve.  We set up a table and easel, explained the program, and furnished the parents with an entry package while Brenda showed the kids how to draw a duck. 

Our time here was impacted by the government shutdown, which closed the visitor center.  We kept busy by roving the trails, getting the mail, and other housekeeping tasks.  Once the shutdown was over, Brenda and I had the opportunity to check out one of the 4-wheel trucks to take a trip into the back country.  It was a memorable trip; the beauty of the canyons, mountains, and Yucca covered desert is hard  describe. 

DNWR is a wonderful place to volunteer; the staff is friendly and welcoming, the RV site is comfortable, and the beauty of the area coupled with the close proximity of Las Vegas is very attractive.  We were treated with a nice goodbye luncheon complete with farewell gifts and a hug – a great end to our stay.  Our view from the pad after an unusual snow: