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Winnemucca District BLM Begins Rehabilitation Work for 2013 Fires, Continues with 2012 Fires Winnemucca, Nev. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Winnemucca District (WD) has begun the planning process for Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation (ES&R) work for six fires that burned more than 22,000 acres across the District in 2013 and will continue rehabilitation from the 2012 fire season that burned more than 250,000 acres. The treatments focus habitat rehabilitation for Greater sage-grouse and other critical wildlife species, such as Lahontan cutthroat trout, mule deer and pronghorn. Treatments will include the ground and aerial application of grass, forb, and shrub seeds as well as fence repair, seedling planting, and noxious weed treatments. Temporary fence construction and repair of livestock allotment fences is also planned to ensure recovery of native vegetation as well as protect the public land user’s investment in the seeding projects. Aerial seeding is planned to begin this winter, weather permitting, while other treatments, such as ground and drill seeding, have already begun. Aggressive noxious weed detection surveys and treatments will be conducted across the burned areas in an effort to prevent any potential weed infestations occurring as a result of the fires. BLM crews will treat weeds through an integrated approach using both chemical and mechanical methods which will be coordinated with habitat restoration projects. “The importance of the Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation efforts should not be underestimated,” said Mike Fettic, Desert Basin Zone Fire Management Officer. “All of this hard work helps speed the recovery of the affected ecosystems that otherwise would take decades to accomplish.” The Winnemucca District is working cooperatively with federal, state, and local agencies, as well as other public stakeholders, Fettic added. For additional information regarding these and future ES&R efforts, contact Eric Baxter, BLM Natural Resource Specialist, at 775-623-1500. Project Specifics Planned Aerial Seeding: • Approximately 6000 acres of Greater sage-grouse Preliminary Priority Habitat (PPH) and Preliminary General Habitat (PGH) in the Holloway Fire near Kings

River Valley using Mountain sagebrush and a small amount of Bluebunch wheatgrass. Seeding continues to treat identified high priority habitat as determined by Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and BLM Wildlife Biologists. • 330 acres in the Raspberry Fire, near Winnemucca, using sagebrush and Sandberg’s bluegrass. This is the entirety of the public lands burned in 2013. • 95 acres in the Cosgrave Fire, near Winnemucca, using sagebrush and Sandberg’s bluegrass. This is the entirety of the public lands burned in 2013. Planned Drill Seeding/Ground Seeding: • Approximately 160 acres of drill seeding in the Dun Glen Fire, near Winnemucca, using Wyoming sagebrush, Sandberg’s bluegrass, Spiny hopsage, Indian ricegrass. • Approximately 125 acres of drill seeding in the Porcupine Fire, south of Orovada, using Wyoming sagebrush, Fourwing saltbush, Bluebunch wheatgrass, Sandberg’s bluegrass. • Approximately 90 acres of broadcast seeding in PGH/PPH within the Coyote Fire, using Mountain sagebrush. Planned Hand Planting: • NDOW has committed approximately 1000 bitterbrush/Wyoming sagebrush seedlings to planting efforts in the Holloway and Porcupine Fires will be planted between December 2013 and March 2014. • Approximately 40,000 Mountain sagebrush and 5,000 Bitterbrush plants have been produced at Boise Federal Nursery and will be planted in the Holloway Fire area in February/March 2014. Fence Repair: • Repair of burned fences has occurred for all 2013 fires with ESR plans. A short section of temporary fence (to be removed in 3 years) has been constructed around the Dun Glen Drill seeding area. Repair of livestock pasture fences continues in the Holloway Fire.

Initial Thoughts and Concerns: Following the Halloway Fire, where there was big sagebrush habitat that burned there was a very short window (1st fall following the wildfire; September-November 2012) to drill seed grasses and to broadcast big sagebrush and ‘Immigrant’ forage kochia. Remember, grasses need to be placed into the soil to imbibe moisture and start the stratification process. The majority of these seeds are germinated by the end of January. Big sagebrush needs to be broadcasted on the surface of the soil so that the hypocotyl hair has contact with the soil as to anchor the seedling to the soil surface and allow the radicle (embryonic root) to penetrate the soil substrate and begin to take up moisture. Seeding on top of snow does not ensure that the seed has soil contact at the time of germination. On habitats that were cheatgrass dominated and absent of big sagebrush, the cheatgrass seed bank already dominates the site and will be the vacuum species regardless of species seeded. A new release of ‘Snowstorm’ forage kochia was broadcasted behind the Nine Mile Ranch (Ugalde) last winter on approximately 10-15 acres and is very successful. Bluebunch wheatgrass at the lower slopes of this burn would be very risky as the sites are too arid the majority of the time, with that said, this drill seeding needed to take place the first fall following the wildfire. I am not familiar with the Rasberry Fire, but big sagebrush seedings experience very poor results in the Winnemucca District from my experience. Sandberg’s bluegrass is a short-lived ephemeral that greens up early and is dry before cheatgrass. 3-5 bluegrass/ft are needed to

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Charlie D. Clements, Rangeland Scientist, USDA-ARS actively suppress cheatgrass. Using bluegrass with Siberian wheatgrass in the more arid sites would have a better chance of establishment and therefore a better chance of actively suppressing cheatgrass! The Cosgrove fire that I am familiar with is already resulting in fall germination of cheatgrass from the very heavy density of cheatgrass in the seed bank. We measured this seed bank at over 700/ft². Without an active cheatgrass control methodology, this seeding will fail. The Dunn Glenn Fire that I am familiar with burned in a Wyoming big sagebrush/cheatgrass interspersed habitat and the seed bank is dominated with cheatgrass. We measured this seed bank at over 500/ft². The open window for drill seeding this site has now past. This is a very arid site, so again Siberian wheatgrass and ‘Immigrant’ or ‘Snowstorm’ forage kochia should have been added to Indian ricegrass. Sandberg’s bluegrass could still be in the mix, but I’m not confident that it can achieve active cheatgrass suppression or decrease the wildfire frequency. Wyoming big sagebrush is very difficult to establish by seeding, therefore I question whether this is a Policy decision and not a biological one. Spiny hopsage resprouts after fire so I am at a loss as to why funds are being spent to seed this species The Porcupine Fire is very near our plant material testing plots which indicated no success with Wyoming big sagebrush, Four-wing saltbush or Sandberg’s bluegrass. Bluebunch wheatgrass experienced limited success whereas ‘Hycrest’ crested wheatgrass and Sherman big bluegrass experienced excellent success and were successThe Progressive Rancher

ful at suppressing cheatgrass. These two species decreased cheatgrass densities by more than 95%. Spring transplanting of both antelope bitterbrush and Wyoming big sagebrush experience significantly less establishment than fall transplants (our data shows 32% for spring and 74% for fall for big sagebrush and for antelope bitterbrush the spring transplants = 3%, fall transplants = 34%). Spring transplants (March-April) receive 4-8 weeks of precipitation, experience increasing temperatures and are actively trying to grow. Fall transplants (October-November) are dormant, receive 6 months of reliable moisture and can develop root mass and depth. Cone container transplants and bare-stock transplants experience significantly less establishment than quart-sized container seedlings that have a better root mass to start with. There appears to be a “Native Species” only policy here. This concerns me, as the species you decide to use in restoration/rehabilitation efforts must have the inherent potential to germinate, sprout, and establish in these environments. The obvious exclusion of crested and Siberian wheatgrass as well as forage kochia are alarming as these species do have the inherent potential to have some degree of success depending on cheatgrass densities. If the goal is truly to replace cheatgrass at some level with species more desirable than cheatgrass, then the establishment of long-lived perennial grasses is necessary. Our research out at Kelly Creek north of Winnumacca in fact suggests that native/introduced seed mixes do better than native or introduced mixes by themselves. www.progressiverancher.com

Profile for The Progressive Rancher

January 2014 The Progressive Rancher  

Inside this issue: Riding for the NCA Brand, NCA Convention, 3B Egg & Livestock, Repurposing PJ, Rehabilitaion of Cheatgrass-Infested Rang...

January 2014 The Progressive Rancher  

Inside this issue: Riding for the NCA Brand, NCA Convention, 3B Egg & Livestock, Repurposing PJ, Rehabilitaion of Cheatgrass-Infested Rang...