Amargosa Toad

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting a rare desert amphibian this month, thanks to the folks at Basin and Range Watch.  The Amargosa toad lives along a roughly ten mile stretch of the Amargosa River and associated springs in the Nevada desert.  The toad's habitat is threatened by human development and pumping of water resources, but luckily some local residents and the Nature Conservancy are working to preserve some of its habitat along the river.

An Amargosa toad (Bufi nelsoni) sits relatively camouflaged along a rare source of water in the desert. The BLM in 2006 considered auctioning off thousands of acres of public lands along the Amargosa River, which would have threatened its habitat with construction activity and more water pumping.
Although this toad only inhabits a small stretch, the Amargosa River actually stretches about 185 miles from Nevada into the Mojave Desert, just east of Death Valley National Park, and supports an array of wildlife, including migratory birds. 

BrightSource Energy's proposed Hidden Hills Solar project may be a potential threat to the Amargosa River and its tributaries.  Although the California Energy Commission (CEC) staff acknowledges that the Hidden Hills project impacts will be most severe for the Pahrump Valley groundwater basin--not the Amargosa River -- the CEC and the Amargosa River Conservancy have noted that there are information gaps and strict monitoring would be needed to make sure that the solar project's water guzzling does not impact the Amargosa River.  What is more likely is that the BrightSource Energy project will wipe out natural desert springs that serve wildlife located closer to the project site, including the Stump Springs, an area of critical environmental concern just miles away.

Mugging for the camera, and not comfortable with its lack of cover.  This Amargosa toad quickly absconded to a nearby stream after this photo was taken.


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