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If you see large herds of sheep in Reno and Carson City, don’t worry, it’s not a baaaaad thing. As part of the Carson Ranger District’s Hazardous Fuels Reduction Programme on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, sheep will be released to graze on two separate fuel reduction project areas. The sheep will help remove cheatgrass and other non-native vegetation from National Forest System lands. The West Carson Fuels Project is located on the west side of Carson City and the Arrowhawk Fuels Reduction Project is located on the west side of Reno. The West Carson Fuels Project area is approximately 500 acres and located southeast of King’s Canyon Road near the C-Hill area and located approximately 10 miles southwest of Reno, just west of Arrowcreek Residential Area urban interface. Grazing will begin sometime in late April or early May, depending on the weather and condition of plants to be grazed. Grazing will continue through the end of the cheatgrass growing season in mid-summer.
“Cheatgrass is an invasive species that has the potential to dominate an area if not managed,” said Fuels Forester Anna Belle Monti. “It can outcompete native vegetation, eventually pushing native grasses and shrubs out of their normal habitat. Cheatgrass plants also create an exceptional fuel bed for wildfire and can be a threat to surrounding communities.”
The Forest has contracted with the Borda Land and Sheep Company out of Gardnerville, Nevada, to perform the grazing projects. Approximately 800 ewes will be used for each grazing area and each flock will be monitored by herders and livestock guard dogs. “This program is an important measure to help keep our communities safe from fire,” said Irene Davidson, Carson District Ranger. “Grazing sheep is a cost-effective and efficient way to fight the spread of the problematic invasive species.”
Monti reminds dog owners hiking in both project areas to keep dogs leashed at the trailheads and within one mile of the trailheads. Last summer there were a number of incidents where off-leash dogs harassed the sheep herds. Livestock guard dogs will be present with the sheep herds and they instinctively will guard the herd against any form of predator that it feels is a threat.