ELY – The Bureau of Land Management Ely District in January aerially seeded 5,858 acres of eastern Nevada’s public lands. Objectives range from restoring and maintaining watershed health and improving wildlife habitat to protecting human life and property and repairing fire damage.
“Establishing perennial and forb species helps to stabilize soils and buffer against erosion, especially on bare or exposed soil and slopes. Perennial species are also able to successfully compete with invasive annuals, for example cheatgrass,” Cody Coombs, Ely District supervisory natural resources specialist, said.
The district seeded 433 acres in the Kern Mountain Range northeast of Ely in White Pine County. Likewise seeded were 489 acres in Duck Creek Basin on the west side of the Schell Creek Range, also northeast of Ely; 913 acres within Johnson Spring Basin on the west slope of the Cherry Creek Range northwest of Ely; and 1,160 acres along Ward Mountain just south of Ely. The seedings compliment mechanical pinyon-juniper tree-thinning treatments completed in December on the same number of acres.
“Woody biomass remaining from the mastication treatments was left onsite to degrade naturally and create a mulch layer for seed germination. Seed mixes differed for each project, depending on specific site characteristics and seed availability,” said Ely District Fuels Specialist Kellie Dobrescu.
Both tree-thinning and seeding are components of larger landscapescale projects intended to restore watershed health and improve wildlife habitat while reducing 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.
The district seeded an additional 310 masticated acres neighboring private property in the Mill Creek area of the Snake Range northwest of Baker, also in White Pine County, as part of a Wildland Urban Interface project and 2,553 acres in the North Pahroc Range northeast of Hiko in Lincoln County to help stabilize and rehabilitate BLM-administered lands burned in last year’s 4,446-acre Big Rocks Fire. “The latter seeding was a component of an emergency stabilization and rehabilitation plan designed specifically for the Big Rocks Fire. The seed mix was determined by multiple factors, including burn severity, soil type, elevation, slope, annual precipitation, and pre-existing vegetation,” said Sheryl Post, Ely District natural resource specialist.
The treated acres will be monitored to ensure that management objectives are met. Objectives include soil protection, forage and protective cover, and overall ecological and watershed improvement