Lake Mead Native Plant Nursery


Nursery Operations

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The Lake Mead Native Plant Nursery produces four broad categories of plants: 1) wetland plants; 2) riparian plants; 3) desert shrubs; and 4) cacti. While the shrubs and cacti are what one would expect of a desert nursery, the wetland and riparian plants might be somewhat surprising.

However these last two categories currently make up the majority of the nursery's output. This is because most of the restoration projects underway in the area are focused on wet rather than arid sites, in order to control erosion, resist invasion by nonnative plants, and preserve habitat for endangered species. Considering that wetland and riparian areas are by definition among the least common parts of the desert, and the most likely to be impacted by human activities, this is not so surprising.

Nursery planting stock goes to projects within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which is part of the U.S. National Park Service system. Additionally, plants are supplied to other government agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA).

Within the park, planting material is used for:

The main external consumer of material from the Nursery is the SNWA which is planting it in the Clark County Wetlands Park. This areas is also known as the Las Vegas Wash. As Lake Mead NRA's immediate upstream neighbor, such collaboration serves the interests of both, since soil eroded out of the Las Vegas Wash ends up in Lake Mead. Similarly invasive exotic plants in the Wash produce seeds that are washed downstream into Lake Mead. Due to the significance of the relationship, more information about this project is available in a section of this website focused on it.

Another client worth special note is the Fish and Wildlife Service, which has a major riparian restoration project underway in the Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge, located north of Las Vegas. The refuge protects habitat for several species found only in the Upper Muddy River Valley (another tributary of the Colorado) including the Moapa dace, Moapa speckled dace, Moapa pebble snail, Moapa water strider, and the Moapa naucorid.


Continued: Propagation

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Wetland plants in a shadehouse


Riparian plants in a shadehouse


Desert shrubs with greenhouses in the background


Barrel and Beavertail cacti