News.bytes Extra, Issue 602
Volunteers Continue to Make a Difference on Lost Fire Burn Recovery
More than 8,000 tiny bitterbrush plants are dotting the landscape on a swath of burned public land, thanks to the efforts of 16 volunteers supporting the staff of the BLM Surprise Field Office.
A volunteer checks a bitterbrush seedling. Photo courtesy of Renee Aldrich, Friends of Nevada Wilderness
The volunteers were part of a cadre of 27, including BLM staff, who worked two days in mid-November to set out the plants on northern Nevada public lands scorched in the 2012 Lost Fire. The planting project was a cooperative effort of the BLM, Nevada Department of Wildlife, Friends of Nevada Wilderness and Friends of Black Rock-High Rock.
Hector Elias Justiniani, a BLM Seeds of Success intern, helped the BLM staff select the planting sites based on soil type and depth. North-facing slopes were favored because snow remains later into the season, increasing the seedlings’ chance of surviving the long, hot summers.
Volunteers at work in a vast and rugged landscape burned in the 2012 Lost Fire. Photo courtesy of Renee Aldrich, Friends of Nevada Wilderness
Some of the seedlings came from Surprise Valley High School in Cedarville, where students are partnering with the BLM to grow plants from seeds they collect locally as part of the Seeds of Success Program.
The lightning-caused Lost Fire burned 60,000 acres in the summer of 2012. BLM staff members are finding that perennial grasses and leafy plants have been regenerating well on their own, but shrubs such as bitterbrush and sagebrush have not. It can take decades for shrubs to re-grow in the interior of large burned areas, so planting seedlings can help speed up the recovery process, and seeds produced by the new plants help to naturally reseed the larger burned area.
Bitterbrush and sagebrush are important as forage and cover for many wildlife species including greater sage-grouse, mule deer and pronghorn.
-- Ali Urza, Natural Resource Specialist, Surprise Field Office (November 2013)
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