USA — Several airplanes and helicopters are dropping seed this week onthousands of acres in Elko County that burned in the record 2006 fire season.
Nevada ranked second in the nation last year in number of acres burned: 7.8million acres or more than 12,000 square miles.
“We’re in the second phase of re-seeding burned area,” said BLM RangeConservationist Tyson Gripp. “The first phase is using tractors to drillseed areas as ground conditions allow. We’ve got ideal conditions now for aerialseeding on snow. The reason we do this is so that the seed lies on top of thesnow and is protected when more snow falls covering the seed. When the snowmelts in the spring, the seed goes right into moist ground, which increases thegermination rate.”
Overall, aerial seeding is planned on more than 200,000 acres of public land.This includes emphasis for rehabilitation of wildlife habitat and soilstabilization using native seed. There are approximately 200 species of wildlifethat use sagebrush habitats on a seasonal or yearlong basis.
The burned areas are within areas that provide for some of the largestcontiguous habitat for sage grouse in the West and largest contiguous big gamehabitat areas in Nevada. As such, sage grouse, big game and other game andnon-game species should benefit from seeding efforts.
“It’s a huge effort,” Gripp said. “Our goal remains to get asmuch work done as we can before the next growing season.”