Restoring Torrance Ranch Preserve to save, protect Amargosa toads

LAS VEGAS - Just north of Beatty, there's a small oasis called Torrance Ranch.  It's a site that conservationists have worked to restore for almost 20 years.

It's part of a larger effort to rehabilitate the Amargosa River Valley.  The rehabilitation is centered around one creature -- the Amargosa toad.

James Moore,  an ecologist with The Nature Conservancy, says he's made a promise he's determined to fulfill which is to find and show off the species.

"There was a pair mating here last week," Moore said.

But when 8 News NOW explored the area with Moore, the only thing discovered was the toad's worst enemy -- the Red Swamp crayfish, which is an invasive species that doesn't belong in the Amargosa River Valley.

"You'll see toads with missing toes, missing feet, it's because of these guys," Moore said showing off the Red Swamp crayfish.

During the search, Moore also found some little toadlets.

"They're very fragile and very tiny," Moore said.

The metaphor is that if the toads go, so will the valley.

Twenty years ago, the land was a junk-ridden ranch.  The toads and everything else around them were in bad shape.
   
However, things have since changed.

"We're trying to recreate conditions prior to the European colonization," Moore said.

The Nature Conservancy has spent half-a-million dollars restoring the site.  Planting trees and opening clogged creeks in an effort to bring back the toads, and all of the other native animals.

"It really is a destination for many species across the Mojave Desert," according to Moore.  "These wetlands are extremely important and critical to the survival of many species."

Later this month, the ranch will formally open a new boardwalk that will be placed above the marsh.  It's a step towards resurrecting a 12-mile stretch of the Amargosa River.

"It's the valley of life," Moore said.  "It's surrounded by harsh, dry desert."

Moore's work at Torrance Ranch translates to every effort to preserve the desert from its own invasive species.

"We need to maintain that natural landscape," Moore said.
"These natural jewels in the desert as they are and as they have been for a very long time."

Torrance Ranch Preserve is open to the public, but those visiting the preserve should make sure to close the gate after they come inside.
  
The boardwalk will open Memorial Day weekend.
 


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