BLM tree-thinning treatments improve land health and reduce catastrophic fire risk

ELY, Nev. – The Bureau of Land Management’s Ely District is hand thinning selected pinyon-pine and juniper on 539 acres of the public lands in the Kern Mountains near the Utah state line, about 50 miles northeast of Ely, Nev.

Natural Resource Specialist Kellie Dobrescu said that hand-thinning is used when pinyon-juniper expansion is less dominate. “It is often referred to as ‘lop and scatter’ because crews lop and scatter targeted trees across the treatment area. Non-targeted tree species, brush, grasses, and forbs are not impacted,” said Dobrescu.

The tree-thinning treatment, which will continue through mid-April, is part of the Kern Mountains Landscape Restoration Project that over a several year period will treat up to 12,580 acres of a 15,725-acre project area.

Earlier this fall, the district’s fuels management team finished hand thinning pinyon-juniper on 4,362 acres of the public lands in the Egan Range, about 15 miles southwest of Ely. Also completed, a lop and scatter treatment on 3,076 acres in the south Ruby Mountains, approximately 50 miles northwest of Ely.

The treatments are part of the Ward Mountain, and Long and Ruby Valley Watersheds restoration projects, respectively. The former, a collaborative effort by the BLM, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Ely Ranger District; and Ely Shoshone Tribe, will treat up to nearly 42,700 acres of a 100,000-acre project area. The latter will treat up to 136,000 acres within the 509,250-plus acre Long and Ruby Valley watersheds.

Hand-thinning is just one of the treatment methods used to remove expanding pinyon-juniper and enhance brush, grass and forb development, thereby improving watershed health and wildlife habitat while reducing catastrophic wildfire risk in White Pine County.

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