Buckskin Valley Vegetation Treatment Environmental Assessment
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Sierra Front Field Office, is proposing vegetation management treatments designed to restore a balance of sagebrush and woodland ecosystems important for wildlife habitat. The treatments would be implemented over a ten-year period on 7,000 acres of public land on the east side of the Pine Nut Mountains in Lyon and Douglas Counties of western Nevada.
The treatments are needed to restore balance between sagebrush, riparian, and woodland plant communities, all of which provide certain resource values to the landscape including habitats essential for a wide variety of wildlife. As a result of unchecked expansion of pinyon pine and junipers growing into historic sagebrush and riparian sites, the shrub and riparian hardwood communities are at risk of being lost from the landscape, and all three types of plant community are at risk of catastrophic effects of wildfire.
Sagebrush habitats required for sage grouse and other important wildlife species is being lost due to a shift from sagebrush to woodlands and is at risk to exposure to large, intense fires.
The greater sage-grouse, a BLM Sensitive Species, is also a candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act . The Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan for the Bi-State Plan Area of Nevada and Eastern California (hereafter referred to as the Bi-State Plan) states pinyon-juniper encroachment is an existing and foreseeable risk affecting sage-grouse habitat quality and quantity in the Pine Nut Population Management Unit (PMU), and impacts are likely to become permanent and irreversible without appropriate management. The Bi-State Plan has recommended conservation action to reduce pinyon and juniper acreage in the Pine Nut PMU to reclaim approximately 30,000 acres of sagebrush habitat with treatments producing a mixed-age mosaic of sagebrush habitat.
Riparian vegetation is also at risk from being crowded out by conifers and catastrophic fire, and water availability to support riparian plants has been greatly reduced by conifer expansion. Woodlands are threatened by wildfire, and many acres of woodland adjacent to the project area have been severely burned in recent wildfires. Recovery of all plant communities from the impacts of catastrophic fire takes many years, especially for woodland and riparian tree stands such as aspens and cottonwoods.
The planned vegetation treatments are designed to reduce the impacts of large, intense fires on all plant communities by reducing hazardous fuel loads. Fire protection capabilities of the BLM and cooperating agencies will be increased, and wildlife habitats will be improved in a more balanced and ecosystem of diverse plant communities.
On September 8, 2011 the BLM issued its Decision on this project. For more information call: 775-885-6000.