Saturday, February 15, 2014
Not long ago, a younger colleague asked me to reminisce about the years I spent wandering around the deserts of southern Nevada and southeastern California. Questions like this sometimes make me feel even older than I am. When I think about it, however, I’m now into my seventh decade and much of what I took part in has become a page in the history of an exciting story in conservation biology. In fact, for that region of the world, the period from the late 1970’s to the mid-1980’s were epochal for the dozens of species of plants, fish, and invertebrates living in the high desert area above Death Valley know as Ash Meadow.
Even as late as the 1980’s Ash Meadows and the surrounding area was still pretty wild. I spent the opening half of that decade working on my first graduate degree at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and then working for the University as a Research Associate. There were times when everyone else was busy and I would take a university vehicle, if one was available, or my own vehicle and, alone. I would drive northwest of Las Vegas toward what was then called the Desert Game Range or Ash Meadows or down to the floor of Death Valley or even further north toward Beatty and the Armargosa River and, on some days, east and then north to Hiko and Crystal Springs and the White River Country. Pupfish, springfish, and poolfish, and their habitats…during those years I joined them wherever they were found.