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Current MTC Refuges

Background Information

As displayed in the following map of the Northern Mojave watersheds, there are currently four established refuges and one newly created refuge for the Mohave tui chub (as of 8/2012). In 2011, a new refuge was established in water filed pit mine in the East Mojave. This refuge is called the Morning Star Mine Refuge in the Mojave Desert National Preserve.  In October 2011, 1,000 Mohave tui chub from Lark Seep and Soda Spring were introduced to the Morning Star Mine in the Mohave National Preserve. The 1-acre, groundwater fed site is an abandoned mining pit. As more information and picture become available, the following list and map will be updated (8/12/2012). 

At present, the established, self sustaining refuges are Larks Seep (located on Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake in Ridgecrest California), Lake Tuendae (located at the Desert Studies Center, in Zzyzx, California), and Camp Cady (located at the Camp Cady State Wildlife Area in the Mojave Desert). Unlike the other refuges, Mohave Chub/Soda Springs might be considered as a true refugia, a protected habitat for a species created by nature (or so we think is the case for MC/Soda Spring). If you are interested in understanding the conventional wisdom surrounding the difference between a man-made "refuge" and a natural "refugia" follow this link.

A newly created refuge was stocked in October, 2008, when 548 Mohave tui chub, all less than 101 mm in total length, were released into Deppe Pond on the Lewis Center's Mojave River Campus in Apple Valley California. All the fish were collected from among three major habitat areas in the Lark Seep refuge.

MC Spring Refugium (?) and Lake Tuendae Refuge (Est.1955)

Mohave Chub/Soda Springs, or MC Spring, is a naturally occurring spring. However, it has been excavated to form a cylindrical shape. No one is really sure just how chub originally got there, but there is supposition they arrived after the Mojave River flooded in either 1862, 1917, 1934 or 1938. Before this population of Mohave tui chub was proven to be genetically pure in 1997, assuming genetic purity, individuals from this population were initially used to populate the Lake Tuendae refuge, which in turn were used to provide fish for all the other refuges that have been established or may be in the future.

This is MC Spring, located in the Mojave National Preserve.

In 1944, Curtis Howe Springer established Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Resort at Soda Springs. For ten years he built an extensive infrastructure to support his operation. Around 1955, Springer excavated an artificial pond about 125 wide by 500 feet long, calling it Lake Tuendae. It has a surface area of 1.4 acres and maximum depth of 3.3 feet (prior to dredging the westerly end in 2001). Lake Tuendae lies about four feet above the dry surface of Soda Lake and is surrounded by Mexican fan palms. A fountain in the middle of the lake, dubbed the "Enrico Caruso Fountain," runs when groundwater is being pumped into the lake. The Lake has no protection from evaporation. It sustains an annual evaporative loss of about 410,000 cubic feet (9.4 acre-feet), five times its volume. Lake Tuendae is connected to the Soda Lake aquifer by seepage, which has probably prevented a long-term buildup of salinity. It gradually fills in with sediments and cattails that must be dredged about every 10 years. Springer or his associates most likely introduced the Mohave tui chub into Lake Tuendae, which now provides one of its few remaining habitats.

 Lake Tuendae is a man-made lake located at the Mojave National Preserve in Zzyzx, California.

[The above descriptions for the MC Spring and Lake Tuendae Refugias were adapted from "Report on a Workshop to Revisit the Mohave tui Chub Recovery Plan, September 3-4, 2003 at Zzyzx, California, Mojave National Preserve"]

China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station (Est. 1971)

Mohave tui chub were introduced at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station in 1971. From the point of their initial placement, beginning with Lark Seep, chub naturally immigrated into a series of channels and seeps that had been constructed to drain waste water away from residential developments. Chub have been surveyed in Lark Seep, G1 Channel, G1 Seep, George Channel, and North Channel.

The Lark Seep habitat started out as a sewage problem. The city of Ridgecrest had grown up to serve China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS), a 1.1 million acre military reserve managed by the Department of Defense (DOD) for the purpose of testing Navy air weapons and training troops. Disposal of waste water lead to the mounding of a shallow groundwater table. In 1945 the City of Ridgecrest built a waste water treatment facility and the treated waste water discharge became Lark Seep. As the area of surface water increased and channels were excavated to drain water away from the facilities (G1 Channel, G1 Seep, George Channel, and North Channel) habitat for the Tui chub increased. From Lark Seep, 425 Mohave tui chub immigrated into the G1 Channel in 1971, and demonstrated a remarkable ability to migrate between seeps. Cattails are removed annually and DOD has widened a channel in an attempt to maintain open water. Populations have been surveyed since 1979, with large confidence intervals due to low recapture rates, and the mosquito fish is widely abundant.

For more information about the China Lake refugia check out this on-line resource.

Once the traps are collected, the Chub are measured. weighed, and tagged. They are then released back into the area where they were caught.

Camp Cady (Est. 1986)

Camp Cady is a designated State Wildlife Area in the Mojave River drainage northeast of Barstow, California. Around 1986, the California Department of Fish and Game excavated two ponds to a maximum depth of 2.75 meters, lined them with clay, and stocked them with Mohave tui chub. The east pond suffered water loss problems and was eventually drained and lined with plastic in 1991. Each pond continues to support approximately 500 Mohave tui chub. One pond is in poorer condition, and the population suffers from problems similar to Lake Tuendae.

This is a picture of Camp Cady just as the river approaches the Cady Mountains. This is where the water of the Mojave River that flows underground begins to well to the surface.

[The above description for the Camp Cady Refuge was adapted from "Report on a Workshop to Revisit the Mohave tui Chub Recovery Plan, September 3-4, 2003 at Zzyzx, California, Mojave National Preserve"] Picture and text credit

Lewis Center Refuge (Est. 2008)

Established in the fall of 2008, the Lewis Center Refuge consists of two artificial ponds named Deppe Pond and Tui Slough. To learn more about the history surrounding the creation of this refuge and its management follow this link; a blog on its management can be found by following this link.

Morning Star Mine Refuge (Est. 2011)

The Morning Star Mine Refuge, established in within the Mojave Desert National Preserve, first received MTC In October 2011, when 1,000 Mohave tui chub from Lark Seep and Soda Spring were introduced to the mine's 1-acre, groundwater fed abandoned mining pit. More will be added here as more information and picture become available (8/12/2012).


Possible Sites for Future MTC Refuges:

In order for the chub to be down-listed from endangered to threatened, two more permanent refuges (as of 2008,) must be established to bring the total number up to six. In order for a refuges to be considered permanent it must have a viable population of chub. Several different locations have been used to try to establish a permanent refuges. These locations include both private and public lands. There are still a few more areas that have not yet been tried and are under consideration. These include Coxey Meadow and lake in the San Bernardino National Forest and existing ponds and lakes on the campus of Victor Valley Community College.

    • Ponds and lakes on the campus of Victor Valley Community College. View a Map
    • Coxey Meadow and lake in the San Bernardino National Forest. View a Map