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Local News

Seeding effort covers more than 26,000 acres in eastern Nevada

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Alex Gonzalez, Public News Service

A cooperative effort has seeded more than 26,000 acres in eastern Nevada. It’s all in an effort to increase desirable grasses, forbs and shrubs while decreasing the prevalence of invasive annual grasses and weeds that can take root in fire-burned areas.

Neil Frakes, emergency stabilization and rehabilitation program manager with the Bureau of Land Management, said the initiative was a joint effort among the BLM, the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition, and added seeding can help stabilize ecological conditions after a fire, starting with soil.

“We use the soil survey information to look at what are the most common soil types in the burn. From that we can look at the ecological site descriptions that are correlated with those soils, and we can use that information to figure out what species are best adapted to those sites,” Frakes explained.

Frakes added they primarily use native seed species, but said seed mixes can vary and are determined by various factors including elevation, slope, annual precipitation and existing vegetation. He added they will only use native seeds when seeding what he calls a “wilderness area.” The BLM will monitor the seeded acreage for the next five years.

Frakes said seeding also helps prevent what he calls a vicious “fire cycle” from happening. He adds previously burned areas are more susceptible to burning again due to invasive and resilient grass species such as cheatgrass that provide dry fuel for fires to propagate. Within his district there have been areas that have burned five to six times in the last 25 years.

“Trying to get something in that is a little more fire resistant so we don’t keep having more fires in the future in those areas,” he explained.

Frakes said that the aerial seeding contractor disperses the seeds using GPS technology to know where to lay the seed. He added it can be challenging to find what he terms a “good weather window,” and adds they only want to seed when there are wind speeds below 10 miles per hour, otherwise there is too much seed drift.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.