From the DOI:
WASHINGTON - In response to the harmful impacts invasive species have on the Nation’s natural and cultural resources, today the Department of the Interior released an interdepartmental report, Safeguarding America’s Lands and Waters from Invasive Species: A National Framework for Early Detection and Rapid Response. The report proposes to stop their spread through early detection and rapid response (EDRR) actions—a coordinated set of actions to find and eradicate potential invasive species before they spread and cause harm.
“Invasive species pose one of the most significant ecological threats to America’s lands and waters,” said U.S. Department of the Interior Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Kristen J. Sarri. “Early detection and rapid response actions can reduce the long-term costs, economic burden, and ecological harm that they have on communities. Strong partnerships and a shared commitment to preventing the spread of invasive species can lay the foundation for more effective and cost-efficient strategies to stop their spread.”
The report, called for by the White House Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience in its Priority Agenda: Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources urges the National Invasive Species Council (NISC)—an interagency body created by Executive Order 13112—to provide leadership in early detection and rapid response for invasive species. Formed in 1999, NISC is comprised of the Secretaries and Administrators of 13 Federal Departments and Agencies and focuses on interdepartmental coordination and high-level policy and planning. The Department of the Interior co-chairs the NISC, along with the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, and houses the NISC Secretariat.
Learn more here: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome
Folks from the Basin and Range Project volunteered a few times with the Nature Conservancy of Nevada and the artists working on the Nature of Art Project at McCarran Ranch. We love the idea of using art as a meaningful way to engage people with nature and the need to keep things wild. The Nature of Art Project is great because not only is it beautiful art, but the art also has an important function in restoring the river.
The Nature of Art project uses sculptures, made of native, natural material to help restore the natural flow and meander of the Truckee river (the river was channelized, straightened, in the 1950s for flood control and agriculture). The artists who are the masterminds behind these sculptures are Daniel McCormick and Mary O’Brien. All of their projects have a high conservation value. They do a lot of research, consulting with local biologists, geomorphologists and other scientists, before they start their projects to ensure their work is beneficial to the environment. The sculptures at McCarran Ranch are designed to help slow down floodwaters and enhance wildlife habitat.
While we were there, we learned to make willow wattles (bundles of willow that are the sculpture’s body) and planted some willows along its base. The sculpture itself was a long wave that reflected the shape of a fallen tree, the effect enhanced by a cottonwood skeleton at its head that the artists hope will one day attract nesting birds. It also will slow down water. Next we visited another sculpture-in-progress, this one an upside down y-shaped structure composed mostly of old dry cottonwood that extends down a bank and has log arms extending into the water. It will provide habitat for critters and then willows. There was already scat on one log showing that western pond turtles have been enjoying the piece. We also saw red-winged black birds using taller parts of the piece as perches. Awesome to see the work is attracting wildlife so soon!
These pieces are designed to decompose and return to nature within 3-5 years, so if you'd like to see them you need to do it soon. There are two project sites in the greater area, one is on the Truckeer River at McCarran Ranch, east of Reno and the other is on the Carson River at River Fork Ranch near Genoa, both are Nature Conservancy properties. The project was featured at the Nevada Museum of Art from December 6-April 6, 2015.
See more photos here: Nature of Art Photos.
Winnemucca, Nev. – The Winnemucca District (WD), Division of Fire recently completed a hand planting project that spanned over 1,155 acres, including three fire-damaged areas: the Thomas Canyon, Hanson, and Holloway Fires. Crews planted a total of 128,000 one year old, bare-root seedlings across the three post-fire areas as part of an approved Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation (ES&R) project for 2015.
The selections for the hand planting sites took into consideration Greater Sage grouse habitat, areas burned by wildland fires, slope, aspects, elevation, and soils desired by the specific seedling species. According to Derek Messmer, Fuels Program Manager for the Winnemucca District, “Sagebrush and other brush seedlings were planted due to the extended timeframes it takes for native brush species to re-populate a plant community.” The crew completed the project in 10 days by way of hand planting.
Of the total 128,000 seedlings planted, Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) donated 52,000 seedlings. The process started over a year ago when WD ES&R staff started collecting seeds from seed zones within the District and sent those seeds to the USDA Forest Service Lucky Peak Nursery located in Boise, ID. The majority of the seedlings were sowed in May of 2014. The BLM has an interagency agreement with the nursery to grow and store the plants until they are ready for planting.
The Thomas Canyon Fire occurred just outside of town near Water Canyon in 2007. Roughly 21,000 Wyoming sagebrush seedlings were planted over 187 acres in this burned area. The Hanson Fire occurred in 2012 and 33,000 Wyoming sagebrush seedlings were planted within that area. In the Holloway Fire area, which burned in 2012, there were 18,500 Antelope bitterbrush, 36,500 Mountain sagebrush, and 19,000 Wyoming sagebrush planted over three different units. Next year the BLM plans to plant roughly 250,000 seedlings on the Winnemucca District. The areas are still being determined.
For any questions about the hand planting project, please contact Derek Messmer, Fuels Program Manager for the Winnemucca District at 775-623-1500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WASHINGTON, March 30, 2015 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) today unveiled an ecosystem-wide model to aid the Southwestern willow flycatcher and help western landowners. The model will enhance or restore habitat for at-risk, threatened and endangered species while supporting working lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The program builds on existing partnerships with landowners in the Southwest to support habitat improvement for the Southwestern willow flycatcher, along with 83 other species that depend on the same riparian ecosystem. This action will result in healthier ranges, more productive ranches, and more robust rural economies.
“By focusing on predictability on an ecosystem level, we will bring together an even larger group of agricultural producers in the Southwest to create habitat for the flycatcher and other wildlife,” said NRCS Chief Jason Weller. “These efforts will not only support the many species that depend on this riparian ecosystem, but also help ranchers move to more sustainable grazing systems and give them the support they need to keep their lands working.”
U.S. Department of Interior, Barrick Gold and the Nature Conservancy Partner to Protect Sage-Grouse Habitat
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of the Interior, in partnership with Barrick Gold of North America and The Nature Conservancy, announced an agreement to provide credit for greater sage-grouse habitat improvements in Nevada while continuing to support gold mining in the state.
The agreement among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Barrick establishes a conservation bank that allows the mining company to accumulate credits for successful mitigation projects that protect and enhance greater sage-grouse habitat on the company’s private Nevada ranch lands. As a result, Barrick gains certainty that the credits can be used to offset impacts to habitat from the company’s planned future mine expansion on public lands.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today released the first of two reports developed by the Rangeland Fire Task Force. This initial report includes actions to be implemented by Interior’s bureaus to immediately address the threat of rangeland fire to Western sagebrush-steppe landscapes and improve fire management efforts before the start of the 2015 wildfire season.
“Cheatgrass and other invasive species have contributed to making rangeland fire one of the greatest threats in the Great Basin – not only to sagebrush habitat, but to wildlife, ranching, and other economic activities that depend on a healthy landscape,” Secretary Jewell said. “As we head into the 2015 fire season, the actions recommended in this report will help ensure that our preparedness, response and recovery strategies better align with the threats facing the West.”
Secretarial Order 3336, signed by Secretary Jewell on January 5, 2015, called for the development of a comprehensive, science-based strategy to reduce the size, severity and cost of rangeland fires; address the spread of cheatgrass and other invasive species; and position wildland fire management resources for more effective rangeland fire response. The Order called for the creation of an implementation plan, initial report, and final report. The Implementation Plan, completed on January 31, 2015, established a roadmap to accomplish the objectives of the Order. This initial report released today outlines actions and activities that the Department, in collaboration with partners and interested stakeholders, can take prior to the onset of the 2015 Western wildfire season. The goal is to protect, restore and conserve vital sagebrush landscapes and productive rangelands, particularly in the Great Basin region of Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and California.
Many of the recommendations in the initial report draw on the comments received and the ideas generated by the November 2014 conference, “The Next Steppe: Sage-grouse and Rangeland Fire in the Great Basin.” The increasing frequency and intensity of rangeland fire in Great Basin sagebrush ecosystems significantly damaged the landscapes relied on by many tribal and local communities, ranchers, livestock managers, sportsmen, and outdoor enthusiasts. The unnatural fire cycle puts at risk the landscapes that, for generations, Westerners have depended on to sustain their ways of life.
Read the full press release here: Secretary Jewell Issues Strategy to Protect, Restore Sagebrush Lands for 2015 Fire Season
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) Fisheries Division has released a proposed plan to restore the sport fisheries in Comins and Bassett Lakes near Ely in White Pine County by removing northern pike. The plan is available for public comment for thirty days beginning March 5, 2015.
Until the mid-2000s Comins Lake was a premier sport fishery for rainbow and brown trout, supporting up to 35,000 angler days per year. The illegal introduction of northern pike in the early 2000s decimated the trout fishery and angler use is now less than 2,000 days per year.
The sport fishery in Bassett Lake, north of Ely near McGill, Nevada, has also been severely impacted by the introduction of northern pike.
"NDOW Fisheries Division is proposing to remove northern pike from Comins and Bassett lakes and their tributaries," said NDOW Eastern Region fisheries supervisor John Elliott. "The goal is to restore the trout fisheries at both lakes."
See more here: http://www.ndow.org/NDOW-Seeks-Input-Restoration-Project-Comins-Bassett-Lakes/
WASHINGTON, Feb.12, 2015 –The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today issued a report showing that since 2010 USDA and its partners in the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) have worked with private landowners to restore 4.4 million acres of habitat for sage-grouse while maintaining working landscapes across the West. USDA also announced today that, through the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill, it will invest in new sage-grouse conservation work over the next four years.
“We’re working with ranchers who are taking proactive steps to improve habitat for sage-grouse while improving the sustainability of their agricultural operations,” Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie said. “Thanks to the interest from ranchers and support of our conservation partners, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is working to secure this species’ future while maintaining our vibrant western economies. Since 2010, we’ve worked with ranchers to conserve, restore, or maintain more than 4 million acres of habitat on private lands – an area twice the size of Yellowstone National Park.”
In the past five years, NRCS has invested $296.5 million to restore and conserve sage-grouse habitat, and has pledged to extend these efforts by approximately $200 million over four years through the conservation programs funded by the 2014 Farm Bill. Additionally, NRCS is piloting use of its Conservation Stewardship Program to broaden the impacts of SGI by targeting up to 275,000 acres to enhance sage-grouse habitat in 2015.
SGI is a diverse partnership led by NRCS that includes ranchers, state and federal agencies, universities, non-profit groups, and private business. SGI has leveraged the NRCS investment with an additional $128 million from partners and landowners, bringing the total SGI investment to $424.5 million. SGI aids ranchers with NRCS technical and financial assistance and in getting NRCS conservation practices on the ground.
Efforts range from establishing conservation easements that prevent subdivision of large and intact working ranches to improving and restoring habitat through removal of invasive trees. Across the range, conservation easements have increased eighteen-fold through the SGI, protecting 451,884 acres. NRCS efforts have been targeted towards the most important regions. More than one-third of the easement acreage is located in Wyoming, which contains 40 percent of the sage-grouse population. In Oregon, NRCS has invested $18.4 million through SGI in on-the-ground restoration, helping more than 100 ranchers remove conifers from 200,000 acres of key nesting, brood-rearing and wintering habitats, addressing 68 percent of the conifer threat to Oregon’s sage-grouse population on priority private land. These efforts focused on eliminating the encroachment of conifer trees on grasslands not only benefit the sage-grouse, but also improve the forage available on grazing lands.
“American ranchers are working with us to help sage-grouse because they know they are helping an at-risk bird while also improving the food available for their livestock,” Bonnie said. “As the saying goes, ‘What’s good for the bird is good for the herd.’”
“We continue to work diligently to remove the conifer trees that put sage-grouse and their habitat at risk,” said Tim Griffiths, NRCS’ coordinator for SGI. “By removing trees and saving vulnerable grasslands, we’re expanding the footprint of prime sage-grouse habitat while supporting sustainable ranching and working lands.”
For more on technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or a local USDA service center.
Today’s announcement was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life.
Carson City, Nev. - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Carson City District, American Forests, Nevada Conservation Corps, and Alpine County are partnering to rehabilitate the Airport Fire area by planting trees starting Tue., March 10 and concluding on Sun., March 15, 2015. This fire burned 81 acres of BLM and Alpine County land during the 2011 fire season and is located near the Indian Creek Recreation Area and the Alpine County Airport along Airport Road.
The planting of 25,000 Jeffrey pine seedlings will be completed by a Nevada Conservation Corp (NCC) crew and is expected to take two weeks, weather permitting. These crew members are AmeriCorps volunteers engaged in national service to earn money for student loans or future coursework. For many of these volunteers, this will be their first large scale reforestation project.
In fall 2011, the BLM and Alpine County developed an agreement which allowed for consistent reforestation of the fire area across the two ownerships. The BLM will use federal funds to plant 30 acres of BLM-managed land, while the planting of the Alpine County portion of the fire (51 acres) will be funded from a Global ReLeaf grant from American Forests.
American Forests is the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country and is a strong advocate for the protection and expansion of America’s forests. Since 1990, they have planted more than 43 million trees. The Global ReLeaf program selects lands where additional funding can help create a new forest that would not be possible under existing programs and budgets.
This unique project leverages funds and partners to insure the reforestation of this highly visible, economically important, and ecologically challenging site. An interpretive sign will be installed at the site this summer describing the efforts between these partners in creating this future forest for all to enjoy.
The public is invited to assist with the planting and/or the installation of protective mats around each seedling on March 13 and 14, starting at 10:00 am. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Coreen Francis, District Forester, at 775-885-6161 or email@example.com.
The 2013 Spring Peak Fire burned nearly 14,230 acres of crucial wildlife habitat. A majority of the area burned is designated as Preliminary Priority Habitat for sage-grouse. This habitat represented high quality sage-grouse and winter mule deer habitat with a majority consisting of productive sagebrush, bitterbrush, and perennial grass cover.
"The fire removed the brush forcing sage-grouse to look elsewhere for suitable habitat. It also set back crucial winter range for the mule deer in that area," said Mark Freese, Habitat Biologist for the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW). In an effort to help restore the area, volunteers and agency staff from NDOW, United States Forest Service (USFS), and the Bureau of Land Management took to the hills to manually plant as many sagebrush seedlings as possible. For two cold and windy days in November, 45 men and women planted more than 6,000 sagebrush seedlings by hand.
"The best way to manually plant a sagebrush seedling is with a gas powered auger and planting each sagebrush seedling by hand. This is a very time consuming and tedious process, but everyone recognized how important this project was and they got the job done," said Aaron Keller, Western Region Wildlife Outdoor Educator and volunteer coordinator for this project.
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