Contributed by Leah Madison: ICVE Education and Logistics Coordinator
Summer 2012 was filled with the shenanigans, laughter, and hard work of a very special group of members with exceptionally bright minds and fantastic senses of humor. Projects included researching and monitoring flying squirrels in the Tahoe Basin, building trails in both the Tahoe and Great Basins, improving habitat for cavity nesting birds throughout the state of Nevada, and mapping and removing invasive plants along the Truckee River Corridor and in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park.
In cooperation with the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), the Great Basin Institute’s Research Associate Program and ICVE investigated Northern flying squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus) and their habitat in the Carson Range of the east Lake Tahoe Basin, NV. While Northern flying squirrels are known to occupy old-growth forests that provide ample nesting sites, little is known about the specific habitat and nesting requirements of Northern flying squirrels in Nevada. Most of the forests around Lake Tahoe were clear-cut during the Comstock mining days, and few old-growth forests exist in the region as a result. Additionally, the Northern flying squirrel is a species of conservation priority because of its restricted range in Nevada.
Through cooperation with the Nevada Land Conservancy, City of Reno, Nevada Division of State Lands, and Washoe County Regional Parks and Opens Spaces, ICVE contributed to the restoration of native habitat in the Truckee Meadows and Tahoe Basin. The crew identified, monitored, mapped, and removed invasive species of plants using manual and chemical treatments. More than 20 acres were treated this field season! Through funding provided by the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), the crew also installed directional signs, information kiosks with trail system maps, and/or hitching posts in the Pine Nut Mountains and Hungry Valley OHV trail systems.
Partnering with NDOW and the Audubon Society, ICVE volunteers spent the summer improving the habitat of cavity nesting birds. The state of Nevada is spotted with PVC pipes that were used as mine markers. Unfortunately, this design of mine markers presents a danger to nesting birds, reptiles, insects, and small mammals and has been required to be discontinued. A team of international volunteers has been driving all over the state, removing these mine markers. This is an ongoing project, expected to take several years for completion.