ELKO, Nev. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Elko District Office, is releasing for a 15-day public review a revised Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Management and Mitigation of Drought Impacted Rangelands. This EA is available online at www.blm.gov/rv5c.
Based on input received in the previously released EA, the revised EA includes vegetation and water “triggers” that will help facilitate management in areas where drought and grazing is negatively impacting rangelands. In addition, letters were sent to permittees asking them to meet with BLM staff to assess range conditions prior to turnout of livestock.
The state of Nevada is experiencing record drought. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of January 28, 2014, more than 60 percent of the state is in severe or extreme drought conditions. While recent rain and snow falls have slightly improved conditions in a few areas, the entire state remains exceptionally dry.
The BLM is placing a high priority on drought monitoring and developing appropriate responses to the varied conditions across BLM-managed public lands. Monitoring throughout the 2012 and 2013 growing seasons indicates little forage was produced, and the remains of that forage are of poor quality. Additionally, many water sources dried up much earlier in the grazing season. This put additional grazing pressure on areas around remaining water sources by all users, including wildlife and wild horses, which caused long-lasting damage to plants, stream channels, spring areas, and water quality.
The Elko District coordinated last year with grazing permittees to adjust their livestock operations to correlate with likely reduced forage production from drought. The Elko District may recommend these actions again this year. The adjustments could include delaying turnout, adjusting grazing numbers, or in some cases substantially reducing livestock numbers.
Adjusting operations is a positive productive response, and the Elko District appreciates all permittees who take a proactive approach when drought conditions exist.
Land use decisions may not be favorable to all public land users, but the Elko District will continue to make these decisions in good faith using the best available science and information available.
For more information on the EA, please contact Aaron Mier, Wells Field Office, or Chris Morris, Tuscarora Field Office, at (775) 753-0200.
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