U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
|Eastern Nevada Landscape Restoration Project|
Vegetative communities in the
Past land management practices are partly to blame, for example the immediate and full suppression of all wildland fires, regardless of potential benefit. Other impacts to the
There is today more burnable fuel piled upon the landscape than ever before, and wildland fires are growing ever-larger and more intense. Sweeping across the public lands, these "catastrophic" wildland fires are lowering the productivity of the soils, prompting a loss of diversity in native plant species. Soil erosion and a reduction in water quality are threatening entire watersheds.
Adding to the threat is the spread across the landscape of invasive flammable annual grasses and noxious weeds, such as cheatgrass and knapweed. These non-native plant species benefit from wildland fire and can easily out-compete the native plant species that our wildlife depend upon to survive. Today in eastern
Restoring the landscape will be no easy task, but the Eastern Nevada Landscape Restoration Project, or ENLRP, intends to do just that - restore health to the approximately 10-million acres of public lands in eastern Nevada that are managed by the BLM Ely Field Office.
In all, about four-million acres of the project area are located in woodlands consisting primarily of pinyon pine and juniper trees. About two-million more acres are in a mixture of pinyon-pine and sagebrush communities. Another 2.5 million acres of the effort involve sagebrush communities alone. Most of the remaining 1.5 million acres consist of valley bottoms. Also within the project area are roughly 7,800 acres of meadows, seeps, springs and wetlands, and 188 miles of riparian habitat associated with streams.
ENLRP utilizes the same principles as the Great Basin Restoration Initiative, ensuring that the best scientific practices of today are applied through the process of adaptive management, allowing adjustments to be made throughout the years-long process.
Also like the Initiative, ENLRP implements such objectives as protecting healthy, functioning ecosystems while restoring landscapes that, though degraded, have a high potential for restoration. Other objectives include developing a process to identify and solve problems, and establishing criteria to prioritize funding and restoration efforts. Combining funding and resources to work on priority areas are also an objective, as are the ability to capitalize on external partnerships and the promotion of scientific research and studies.
Accomplishing this monumental task requires that the BLM and its partners develop a consensus on the overall health of Great Basin landscapes in eastern
The benefits to restoring ecosystem health include watershed stability, as well as species diversity and composition, and habitat improvement - critical to providing for the long-term sustainability of native wildlife species such as deer, elk and sage grouse. Riparian areas would also benefit, not to mention the values held by local cultures.
To help facilitate the Eastern Nevada Landscape Restoration Project, the BLM Ely Field Office is preparing the Ely Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, or Ely RMP/EIS. When completed, the Ely RMP/EIS will provide management direction for all BLM Ely District programs in the planning area for the next 20-plus years, as well as fulfill obligations set forth by the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.
Partnering with the BLM Ely Field Office to accomplish the Eastern Nevada Landscape Restoration Project is a non-profit 501c3 organization entitled the Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition, or ENLC. The ENLC is a community-based partnership of 100-plus members representing a broad spectrum of public land users. Visit the coalition on-line at www.envlc.org.