The 3 Bars Ecosystem in central Eureka County, Nevada spans approximately 725,000 acres and includes all or portions of three major mountain ranges (Roberts Mountain, Simpson Park Range, and Sulphur Spring Range). Many factors are contributing to the overall decline in land condition of this area. The gradual loss of sagebrush, bitterbrush, and mountain shrub communities impact wildlife species such as sage grouse, pygmy rabbit, and mule deer. Compromised riparian habitats impact the threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout and other aquatic species. Factors contributing to the overall decline in land health include increasing incidence and severity of wildfire, increasing expansion of downy brome (cheatgrass), increasing expansion and densification of pinyon pine and Utah juniper woodlands, and increasing human impacts.
What is Being Proposed
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Battle Mountain District Office is proposing a comprehensive treatment program for dramatically improving the health of the 3 Bars Ecosystem and reducing the risks that are contributing to its decline. The proposed project, known as the 3 Bars Ecosystem and Landscape Restoration Project (3 Bars Project), focuses on restoration at the landscape level. It will address landscape protection priorities identified in the Healthy Lands Initiative of 2007 (maintaining sagebrush steppe habitat and strategically restoring fragmented habitat for at-risk wildlife species), as well as resource management goals that are important to the BLM’s Mount Lewis Field Office and the Battle Mountain District. The proposed treatments would range from several acres to several thousand acres, depending on specific treatment and management goals and desired outcomes for each resource area. Possible treatment methods could include prescribed fire or wildland fire use, and manual/physical, mechanical, and biological treatments, and other management actions.
In order to implement the proposed 3 Bars Project, the BLM must develop treatments and treatment objectives that meet previously identified resource management goals. These goals are consistent with the Shoshone-Eureka Resource Management Plan which currently guides land management activities on the 3 Bars Ecosystem. These goals pertain to wildlife and habitat components, fire and fuels management, control of weeds, woodland and rangeland values, wetland and riparian components, wild horse components, Native American components, and cultural resources. In an effort to develop treatment objectives, the BLM must also identify where existing conditions warrant a change based on ecosystem needs for health maintenance, habitat maintenance, restoration goal, and protection.
Due to the fact that the proposed 3 Bars Project has been identified by BLM as a major federal action, the BLM and its contractor (AECOM Environment) are preparing the 3 Bars Ecosystem and Landscape Restoration Project Environmental Impact Statement (3 Bars EIS). This EIS will identify and evaluate treatment alternatives to implement the proposed 3 Bars Project to meet resource management goals.