BLM Ely District tree-thinning part of large-scale watershed restoration

ELY, Nev. – The Bureau of Land Management Ely District is selectively masticating or grinding pinyon-pine and juniper trees to improve wildlife habitat and create fire breaks on nearly 3,000 acres of White Pine County’s public lands.

“When trees become too dense, the understory shrubs, grasses and forbs important for wildlife decline.  Thinning the trees and applying seed increases the food source for wildlife while reducing the potential for hazardous crown fires,” Cody Coombs, BLM Ely District supervisory natural resources specialist, said.

The district is thinning encroaching trees from sagebrush communities in the Kern Mountains and Duck Creek and Johnson Spring basins located about 80 miles northeast, 20 miles northeast, and 65 miles north of Ely, respectively. The district is also removing trees on Ward Mountain, adjacent to town.

The district is treating 433 acres in the Kern Mountains, 489 acres in Duck Creek Basin, 913 acres in Johnson Spring Basin, and 1,160 acres on Ward Mountain. Seeding will be conducted in January.

The treatments are part of four landscape-scale projects designed to restore watershed health and reduce catastrophic fire risk. The Kern Mountains Landscape Restoration Project will ultimately treat up to 12,580 acres of a 15,725-acre project area. The Duck Creek Basin Hazardous Fuels Reduction and Habitat Improvement Project will treat 12,900 acres of a 30,000-acre project area, The Egan and Johnson Basins Restoration Project will treat 24,346 acres of an 84,675-acre project area and the Ward Mountain Restoration Project will treat 42,670 acres of a 100,000-acre project area.

Other treatment methods common to the multi-year projects include hand-thinning, chaining, aerial and ground seeding, and prescribed fire use. The district often partners with federal and state agencies, Native American tribes, and private landowners. Some projects, such as the Ward Mountain Restoration Project, receive Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, or SNPLMA funding.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

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Bureau of Land Management


Ely District Office


Chris Hanefeld