Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined legislation introduced by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) to facilitate an integrated regional assessment of saline lake ecosystems—bodies of water that line wetlands across Nevada and the West Coast, serving as habitats for a diverse array of wildlife and providing important economic and social benefits to nearby communities. The Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act of 2020 would fill a critical data gap regarding current and future stressors in saline lakes that has made it nearly impossible to address a variety of problems caused by declining water levels.
“Nevada’s saline lakes – Pyramid Lake and Walker Lake – are sanctuaries for a wide variety of unique animals, fish and migratory birds. They also fuel local economies, provide many exciting outdoor recreation opportunities and hold cultural significance for Nevada Native American tribes. Unfortunately, climate change and other stressors have led to declining water levels at saline lakes across the Great Basin, and they need our help. This legislation extends a lifeline to these important bodies of water so we can gather the data we need to create a long-term conservation plan that keeps these ecosystems healthy for generations to come.”
Specifically, the Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act of 2020 would authorize a study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)—in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and other federal, state, tribal, and local agencies, research universities, non-profit organizations, and other partners—in order to form an action plan for a robust multi-year integrated program to assess, monitor, and conserve saline lake ecosystems.