Desert Fishes Council, Death Valley, CA, November 2000.

Ash Meadows: a photographic perspective 1938-2000.

T. Webster & P.J. Unmack

Ash Meadows has played an important role in the conservation movement in the American West, especially in the formation of the Desert Fishes Council. This was due to its permanent water supply in an otherwise parched landscape, which attracted the attention of ranching and housing developers who vastly modified the aquatic habitats. Fortunately, environmental concerns ruled the day and ultimately resulted in the formation of the Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge. Due to the significance of the area and the interest in its conservation, many photographs exist from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Fewer photos exist prior to this time. Present efforts are focusing on locating additional photographs from all time periods, as it is difficult to get series of images suitable for comparison due to differences in photographic perspective. However there is sufficient documentation for a basic comparisons of changes from when Robert Rush Miller began his studies there in 1938. A major hiatus exists until the late 1960s when many students, professors and others involved with the "proto" Desert Fishes Council spent much time in the area, many of whom photographed habitats. Our own involvement in Ash Meadows began in 1994-5 and is continuing. Several springs have good series of photos that provide an indication of changes over time. These include Big, Jackrabbit, Kings Pool, Point of Rocks, Crystal, Longstreet, Rogers, and Fairbanks. These photographic comparisons allow both anthropogenic and natural changes over time to be recorded. They also document nature's ability to recover from seemingly total devastation, both of which are useful in restoration efforts.

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