DATE: January 26, 2007
CONTACT: Mike Brown
ELKO FIELD OFFICE: 2007-29
FOR RELEASE: January 26, 2007
AERIAL SEEDING COMMENCES FOR FIRE REHAB EFFORTS
Several airplanes and helicopters are dropping seed this week on thousands of acres in Elko County which burned in the record 2006 fire season.
“We’re in the second phase of re-seeding burned area,” said BLM Range Conservationist Tyson Gripp. “The first phase is using tractors to drill seed areas as ground conditions allow. Drill seeding continues on Charleston, Suzie, Winters, Sheep, Sneekee, and Basco Fires. We’ve got ideal conditions now for aerial seeding on snow. The reason we do this is so that the seed lies on top of the snow and is protected when more snow falls covering the seed. When the snow melts in the spring, the seed goes right into moist ground which increases the germination rate.”
Three air service companies, Dibble, Inc., of Marysville, Calif.; Morris Ag and Sons of Orovada, Nev., and El Aero of Elko, Nev., are dropping special seed mixes on the Suzie, Basco, Charleston, Gopher, and Marble Fire areas – all north of Interstate 80 in Elko County.
Next week, Mile High Aviation of Mack, Colo. plans to start aerial seeding on the Sheep Fire north of Battle Mountain. This will be followed by approved plans to seed close to two dozen additional burned areas on public lands as the winter progresses.
Overall, aerial seeding is planned on over 200,000 acres of public lands. This includes emphasis for rehabilitation of wildlife habitat and soil stabilization using native seed. There are approximately 200 species of wildlife that use sagebrush habitats on a seasonal or yearlong basis. The burned areas are within areas that provide for some of the largest contiguous habitat areas for sage grouse in the West and largest contiguous big game habitat areas in Nevada. As such, sage grouse, big game, and other game and non-game species should benefit from seeding efforts.
“For the Suzie Fire, we’re using a wildlife benefiting seed mix made of shrubs and forb species such as sagebrush, yarrow, alfalfa, forage kochia on 12,000 acres,” said Gripp. We’re using a similar all native seed mix on 6,000 acres of the Basco Fire. Our intention is to re-establish sagebrush in areas of massive sagebrush loss. Working closely with the Nevada Department of Wildlife we identified high priority wildlife habitat areas where wildlife are dependant on sagebrush ecosystems.”
“For the Charleston Fire, we’re using a watershed stabilization seeding mix of native
species on 11,500 acres,” said Gripp. Nearly every drainage on public land in the Charleston burn area will be seeded to lessen erosion. About 140,000 pounds of grass seed will be used to stabilize the stream banks – it’s a huge effort. Our goal remains to get as much work done as we can before the next growing season.”