ELKO, Nev. – The Bureau of Land Management, Elko District partnered with local and state agencies on Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation (ESR) work on the seven largest 2012 fires within the Elko District that consumed more than 75,000 acres.
Elko BLM partnered with Barrick’s Goldstrike Mine, Nevada Department of Wildlife and Nevada Muleys, a nonprofit organization helping to preserve mule deer habitat, in a variety of rehabilitation efforts.
The seeding treatments include both rangeland drills and aerial application and focus on the rehabilitation of Greater Sage-grouse and other critical wildlife habitat, such as Lahontan cutthroat trout, mule deer and pronghorn.
To date, Elko operational crews have completed 85 percent of 16,000 acres of planned aerial seeding with completion expected by Feb. 22. About 50 percent of the 2,000 acres planned for drill seeding are complete with the remaining acres to be completed when favorable ground conditions return.
Chaining treatments are half way completed. Chaining treatments remove burned trees and cover grass, forb and shrub seed that was aerially applied which improves seedling establishment.
A priority for the Elko District was the Willow Fire which consumed 42,781 acres (33,265 private and 9,516 public) in a large portion of Preliminary Priority Habitat for Greater Sage-grouse (PPH) as well as affected Lahontan cutthroat trout and mule deer habitat. Seasonal habitat for sage-grouse impacted by the Willow Fire included nesting, brood rearing, summer, and winter habitats. In addition, the Willow Fire consumed three active sage grouse leks, and burned within two miles of four other active leks, one of which supported the largest number of sage-grouse attendance within the State of Nevada during the spring of 2012.
In an effort to rehabilitate this habitat loss, Barrick contributed funding toward aerial seeding of 9,000 acres of Barrick private lands. Elko BLM is implementing Barrick aerial seeding treatments in addition to public land aerial seeding treatments totaling 5,300 acres. The Nevada Department of Wildlife provided funding to seed 4,800 acres on other private lands within the Willow Fire.
Elko BLM, in cooperation with Barrick and the Nevada Department of Wildlife, completed aerial application of wood straw on private lands in an effort to help mitigate the anticipated soil erosion into three LCT streams. Aerial seeding of a watershed seeding mix of grasses and forbs was completed on both private and public lands to help stabilize the drainages and reduce soil erosion and cheatgrass establishment.
Nevada Muley’s provided rental of a small dozer to pull rangeland drills on the Stud Fire to seed native grasses and shrubs benefiting mule deer and sage grouse habitat. Nevada Muley’s also plans to provide sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings to be planted in the Spring in a volunteer effort between BLM and NDOW in burned winter range for mule deer.
Other treatments include fence repair, erosion control structures and noxious weed treatments. There will also be temporary protective fence construction to ensure recovery of native vegetation protecting public land user’s investment in range rehabilitation.
In addition, aggressive noxious weed detection surveys and treatments will be conducted across the burned areas to prevent any potential weed infestations occurring as a result of the fires. BLM weed crews will work treating weeds through an integrated approach using both chemical and mechanical methods.
The rehabilitated fire areas are: Kittridge, five miles north of Elko; Chimney, on the Southfork Indian Reservation; Willow, five miles west of Tuscarora; Lime, seven miles southeast of Wilson Reservoir; Morning Star, one mile south of Jackpot; 20-Mile, 40 miles northeast of Wells; and Stud, seven miles southeast of Charleston.