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Tuscarora Sage Grouse Habitat Restoration
Restoration Efforts Target Sagebrush Habitat in Northeastern Nevada

Project: Targets 10,000 acres of northeast Nevada sagebrush habitat for restoration in the Tuscarora population management unit for sage grouse north of Battle Mountain.

ARRA Funding Level: $937,000

Progress:

February 2, 2011: $936,013 obligated, $882,761 spent. Work includes seed purchases, fence material purchase, conduct cultural inventory, seeding protection fence construction, 4,400 acres of herbicide treatments and about 20,000 pounds of seed mixing. A total of 94,650 pounds of seed was purchased.

October 21-22, 2010: More than 3,000 acres were aerial seeded on the harrowing project area.

May 7, 2010: Cultural inventory field work completed by SWCA Environmental Consultants.
Contracts: Nine separate contractors for a total award of $759,294 have been hired for cultural inventory field work, fence material, seed buy, aerial herbicide application, protective fence construction, harrowing, drill seeding (rangeland drill), drill seeding (Truax drill), and aerial seeding.

Jobs: Eight contract workers will be needed to complete the remaining work over the next four months. The entire project provided jobs for 35 contract workers.

Local purchases: Some of the project work was awarded to local contractors. All contractors are purchasing fuel, food and lodging while completing the work.

Completion date target: January 31, 2011.

Partners: The Nevada Department of Wildlife and the Nevada Muley’s, a mule deer conservation group.

Benefits and Need: Restoration of this area will improve habitat for sage grouse, mule deer, pygmy rabbit and pronghorn antelope. It will also improve overall watershed health, reduce the incidence of catastrophic fires in cheatgrass dominated areas and reduce erosion. A mix of shrubs and perennial grasses, including Wyoming big sagebrush, forage kochia and Siberian wheatgrass, are being planted by drill seeding, harrowing, and aerial seeding. Herbicide treatments to knock back cheatgrass will give new seedlings a competitive edge, and new fences will protect seedlings from grazing until the vegetation is established.

Background: The project augments previous emergency stabilization and rehabilitation treatments in an effort to restore sagebrush habitat in areas burned by catastrophic wildfires over the past 20 years. The wildfires destroyed a number of Wyoming big sagebrush communities, setting off a rapid expansion of cheatgrass and other invasive grasses that degrade wildlife habitat.

Harrowing taking place after aerial seeding of shrubs and forbs.     Rooster's Comb herbicide, contractor sprays herbicide to control cheatgrass.
Harrowing taking place after aerial seeding of         Rooster's Comb herbicide: contractor sprays 
shrubs and forbs: Spike tooth pasture harrows        herbicide to control cheatgrass, as a seedbed 
used to cover aerial applied sagebrush and            prep is aerially applied via contractor.
forb seed in an existing 1985 Fire Rehabiliation      Cheatgrass die-off area in background.
Drill seeding of primarily crested wheatgrass.          Cheatgrass has started to come back this
The area has experienced two fires since                spring in the die-off area. 
the 1985 Rock Creek Fire.