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Calico Basin/Red Spring Boardwalk project

Improvements to trails and facilities in the Red Rock National Conservation Area help reduce conflicts between visitation and wildlife.

By Kim Mclean

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This project in the Red Springs area is a result of management alternatives developed to protect the habitat in this high use area. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a Bureau of Land Management area on the western edge of the Las Vegas Valley. The Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association supports the BLM in the stewardship of the area. The Conservation Area was designated for its "unique and nationally important geologic, archeological, ecological, cultural, scenic, scientific, wildlife, riparian, wilderness, endangered species and recreation resources."

photo: boardwalk across meadow

Calico Basin in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (click photo to enlarge)

New boardwalks allows visitors to enjoy the site and experience interpretive areas while sensitive riparian habitat is protected. Three springs with permanent water emerge from the base of the red sandstone cliffs: Red Spring, Calico Spring, and Ash Spring. Water also runs in washes to the north and south of the springs during winter.

This area, known as Calico Basin, is sheltered and moist, making it attractive to a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. Flow from the springs supports several tree species, including cottonwood, ash, shrub live oak, and honey mesquite, as well as saltgrass meadows. Red Spring flows from a shallow tunnel in the rocks at the end of the road.

photo of boardwalk with trees

Red Spring Boardwalk project (click photo to enlarge)



What measures should be taken to restore Red Springs to its maximum habitat potential while still providing interpretation and recreation for the visitors?


Establish a trail system that incorporates the parking area, picnic areas, interpretive boardwalk and other trails in the area. By tying all trails into a central trail system, and tying this trail system to the parking area, trail braiding can be kept to a minimum.


photo of interpretive sign on trail
Interpretive signs on the new boardwalk (click photo to enlarge)

In order to gain compliance in sensitive areas, an organized and informative trail system is necessary. Educating the public about the reasons for these sensitive areas will help to reduce impacts.

A wooden boardwalk within the fenced area at Red Springs will help educate the public, with an up-close feel, to the sensitivity of Red Spring. Allowing the public access into the enclosure on a defined path will eliminate the desire to jump over the fence and trample sensitive areas. A wooden boardwalk can also enhance the interpretive experience.

For more information on the boardwalk project:

Kim Mclean, Red Rock National Conservation Area
Bureau of Land Management
(702) 515-5000 -

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