By Gail Durham, Nevada Division of Forestry
The Nevada Division of Forestry, Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, will be using federal grant funds to aerially reseed next month approximately 1,020 acres of private land that burned in the Ray May and Holbrook fires in southern Douglas County.
The aerial seeding is planned for January 3-5, 2012 if the weather is favorable. About 30,000 pounds of seed will be applied to burned lands. The funds are provided to do fuel reduction on private forestlands in southern Douglas County, and although the fire burned all vegetation on those lands, the concern now is widespread establishment of cheatgrass. Cheatgrass is found in many of Nevada’s native vegetative communities now and reproduces large amounts of seed each year to re-establish itself. Normally the native perennial plants keep it in check by utilizing the available moisture through their extensive established root system, but after a fire it establishes rapidly to quickly utilize the available nitrogen and moisture in the soil. This competitive advantage makes it difficult for other grasses, shrubs and flowers to establish.
The project will focus on seeding competitive grasses, shrubs and flowers that will hopefully outcompete cheatgrass and provide long term plant establishment to prevent cheatgrass dominance. Winter and spring moisture is critical for seeding success. An added benefit of this seeding will be to provide erosion control to the burned hillsides.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife is providing funding to include sagebrush seed in the mix on all public and private lands in the Ray May fire. This will help to re-establish the native sagebrush habitat for the bi-state population of sagegrouse.