LAS VEGAS (AP) — State and federal land managers launched an aerial reseeding effort to stabilize and rehabilitate more than 10,000 acres of public land burned by wildfires in eastern Nevada last year.
The work started last week and was expected to improve habitat for threatened sage grouse and other wildlife as well as boost the overall health of watersheds. Officials for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Nevada Department of Wildlife were concentrating the effort in Elko, Eureka and White Pine counties.
The biggest part of the project will be reseeding nearly all the 7,695 acres that burned in August south of the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Workers will apply a mixture of grasses, forbs, shrubs and legumes to stabilize the soil and fend off non-native and invasive plants, such as cheatgrass, said Chris McVicars, natural resource specialist for BLM’s Ely district.
Crews plan to apply seed to about 1,200 of the 1,900-plus acres burned in July southeast of Eureka, and about 1,500 of the 4,600 acres scorched in August at Great Basin National Park along the Utah line.
With the help of helicopter crews, the project is expected to take two to four weeks to complete.
Tod Williams, resource manager for Great Basin National Park, said the seeds will fall on the snow covering the burned area in hopes the plants will sprout in the spring and limit flooding that could further damage the area.
“Once you start getting that ground cover back in, it helps stabilize the soil,” he told the newspaper.
Officials have called the wildfire the most destructive blaze in the 30-year history of Great Basin National Park. Once the flames were out, Williams and others warned that huge floods could wash down the burned area and “blow out” Strawberry Creek, damaging the watershed for years or even decades.