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From The Editor

Walker Lake: On the brink

Beauty has always been in the eye of the beholder. And if you are Peter Brussard, one of the country's top conservation biologists, Walker Lake holds a special grip on the imagination.

"It's almost unique ... if that's even a concept to most people," says Brussard, whose research at the university has taken a long, hard look at how much longer the desert lake located near Hawthorne will continue to survive with its quantity of total dissolved solids rising to alarmingly high rates while its water level continues its precipitous century-long drop. "It's a terminal lake (with no outlet), and they aren't common. And terminal lakes that support fish like Walker does are particularly uncommon.

"We have saved Pyramid Lake, so it would be nice for all the same reasons to save Walker. In its own unique way, it is a very beautiful place."

Walker Lake's story, which is this issue's cover subject, is not particularly hopeful. In a recent article in the "Desert Report" from the Sierra Club California/Nevada Desert Committee, longtime Nevada faculty member Ellen Pillard — one of the most respected and reasonable environmental voices in Nevada — notes that, simply, sadly and irrefutably, "Walker Lake is dying."

Yet we can still hope. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid has made Walker Lake a priority on his environmental agenda. Individuals such as Loretta Singletary, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension associate professor and educator, have worked tirelessly in recent years to build a common ground of dialogue between the disparate points of view entangled in the Walker Lake struggle.

Talk can be cheap, and for some at Walker Lake, talk isn't going to be enough to solve the lake's problems. But as longtime Walker resident Terry Hansen — a man who caught his first fish at Walker a half century ago — notes, "You can't do anything unless you talk to each other first. Until everyone involved in this issue talks ... and just as importantly, listens to one another, this lake's going to keep disappearing so damn fast none of us are even going to remember it."

— John Trent


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