ELY – This month the Bureau of Land Management continues work on a multi-year restoration project in the Egan Basin, about 50 miles north of Ely, with tree-thinning across about 450 acres. The work includes masticating, or mechanically shredding, pinyon pine and juniper.
Officials said the work is intended to help re-establish sagebrush communities, improve wildlife habitat and reduce fire potential. Operations will pause soon to accommodate migratory bird nesting season and resume in mid- to late summer.
“We chose mastication because it allows us to remove the encroaching trees without damaging adjacent species, such as mountain mahogany. Also, the resulting biomass will serve as mulch for seed we applied earlier this year,” said Cody Coombs, BLM Ely District fuels program manager.
The re-seeding part of the project, completed in January, saw aerial distribution of some 4,400 pounds of seeds for grasses and forbs. Native seeds included bluebunch and thickspike wheatgrass, indian ricegrass, western yarrow and palmer’s penstemon. Non-native siberian wheatgrass and small burnet, a forb, were also spread to support soil stability and provide for erosion control.
“Seed mixes are based on site conditions and use. Native seed is the priority however, non-native seed is used depending on the availability of native seed, site characteristics, and risk of invasive species establishment,” explained Kellie Dobrescu, range and wildlife conservationist.