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Conservation Matters

2012 Accomplishments Report

More Water, More Forage, More Sage-Grouse

Cattle ranchers Don and Sheila Phillips wanted to do something to help sage-grouse on their ranch near Ely, but Don wasn’t convinced those new white vinyl markers he’d added to his fences would do anything to prevent bird collisions. A few weeks later, though, Don stopped in the Ely NRCS office with big news.

"I was headed out in the field and the sage-grouse took off and headed right for that fence, but sure enough, at the last minute, they went up and over those markers!"

The Phillips are participants in the NRCS’s Sage-Grouse Initiative, a partnership program available to farmers and ranchers who want to make improvement on their private and public land. Conservation measures that enhance sage-grouse habitat have also been shown to improve grazing by increasing forage for livestock and reducing wildfire risk.

In Central Nevada, Louis Cole has seen dramatic benefits from the improvements he made with NRCS assistance. Cole removed pinyon and juniper trees, reseeded areas, and installed grade stabilization structures where the stream channel had downcut. After the first year, the creek flowed longer than Cole had seen in years and the meadows are wider and healthy. It appears that some planned reseeding won’t be necessary as the native vegetation is returning on its own now that the trees have been removed.

The Bootstraps Program and NRCS partnered again in 2012 to remove pinyon-juniper on over 1,100 acres and install steel jack fences around meadows providing critical habitat for sage-grouse.

SGI Accomplishments in Fiscal Year 2012

  • Sage-Grouse Initiative Contracts: 21
  • Sage-Grouse Habitat Restored: 328,964 acres (private and public)
  • Pinyon-Juniper Removed: 8,000 acres
  • Marked Fence: 80,226 feet

Sage-Grouse Initiative Obligations: $2,164,199 Locally-led Conservation Efforts Keep Toad Off Endangered Species List

David Spicer, a rancher in Beatty, Nevada and founder of the non-profit organization Saving Toads Though Off-Road Racing, Ranching and Mining in the Oasis Valley (STORM-OV), has successfully rallied his community to protect the Amargosa toad (Bufo nelsoni) and keep it off of the list of endangered species.

Partnering with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, other federal and state agencies, non-profit organizations, local government, fellow landowners, and by acquiring grants, Spicer and his STORM-OV partners have restored 11 springs, enhanced one mile of river, and created or enhanced 57 acres of toad breeding and foraging habitat mostly on private land.

New Solar Watering Facility Saves Time and Money


Willow Creek Ranch owners Russell and David Fitzwater installed five energy efficient watering facilities on their private land and public allotments, thanks to a collaborative effort with the Bureau of Land Management and NRCS. The solar panel pumping plants, new pipeline, and water storage tanks and troughs, have provided the Fitzwaters with an efficient and effective livestock watering system. "Solar energy has eliminated our gas bill, while giving us the ability to have fresh, dependable water every day," said Russell Fitzwater.
 

Stream Restoration Protects Bonneville Cutthroat Trout

When Bonneville Cutthroat Trout were reintroduced into Big Wash Creek in eastern Nevada, the owners of Hidden Canyon Ranch joined forces with Trout Unlimited, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and NRCS to restore the creek and ensure that the habitat was beneficial for the BCT, a species of concern for the FWS.

The landowners installed six grade stabilization structures in Big Wash Creek, with financial assistance from the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program. The structures provide numerous environmental benefits by slowing the rate of water discharge during large water events, and reducing the velocity and energy responsible for creating down cuts and gullies. Sediment is caught and retained upstream to help restore stream grade, raise the water table, and stabilize eroded banks. The owners are now working to restore the stream habitat using WHIP funding.

High Tunnel Farmers Help Families in Need

James and Barbra Hertz of Fallon were excited about the prospect of helping their local community by providing fresh produce to families in need. They applied for and received financial assistance under the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program for a high tunnel in the spring of 2012. The Hertz’s non-profit business, Lone Pine Farms, partnered with Icon International to grow vegetables and also help troubled youth.

This year, Lone Pine Farms grew a variety of crops to donate, including squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, green beans, potatoes and peppers. They are hopeful that this is only the beginning, and plan on continuing to grow produce to help feed families in Northern Nevada for years to come.

Evaluating Irrigation Pumping Plant Efficiencies

In an effort to get a handle on pumping plant efficiency and associated operating costs, an increasing number of agricultural producers are taking advantage of the Conservation Stewardship Program. Irrigation Pumping Plant Evaluation is one of many enhancement activities available through CSP. Under this activity, an irrigation pumping plant performance test is conducted to measure power consumption and the volume of water produced in order to determine overall pumping plant efficiency. The Irrigation Pumping Plant Evaluation must be performed by a trained service provider using appropriate testing equipment. The service provider provides the producer with a report that includes information on present pumping plant efficiency, potential efficiency, present energy use, and an estimate of energy and cost savings if improvements are implemented. Recent evaluations show that improvements can increase efficiency up to 30 percent, saving up to $6,000 each year on a single pumping plant.

Managing for Livestock and Wildlife

A & B Paradise Enterprises owners Bob and Astrid Schweigert have been working to increase available forage for livestock while improving wildlife habitat on their rangeland in Pershing County. They signed up for a Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program contract in 2009 to fence off a spring and pipe the water to outlying areas to provide water for livestock and wildlife, drawing the livestock away from the riparian area.

With this project completed and operating perfectly, they decided to increase the available forage. The area around the spring and associated overflow had been invaded with rabbitbrush that started to choke out the native grasses in the area, and a large portion of the section burned in 2000 and came back with cheatgrass and some bluegrass. With help from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Bob and Astrid were able to reseed the burned area, and remove and chemically treat the rabbitbrush. Two years after the seeding, crested wheatgrass is spreading across the area and native grasses are growing along the riparian area. The fenced area is kept free of livestock throughout the growing season so the wildlife can utilize the area and is grazed in the fall after plant dormancy.

Improvements Provide More Streamflow Forecasting Data for Water Users

The NRCS snow data network consists of manual snow course measurements, automated SNOw TELemetry (SNOTEL) sites and aerial markers (AM) for winter time data collection. The AM’s are measured 3 times a year by flying over them, usually with a helicopter, and getting a visual snow depth measurement from the air. The density of the snowpack is estimated and the snow water equivalent or water content of the snow is calculated. It was the best way to get snow water equivalent in remote parts of Nevada until Bob Nault from our Salt Lake City office came up with a design to put a snow depth sensor on existing AM’s and use a satellite phone modem to transmit the data, snow depth and temperature 4 times per day. Not only will this provide additional data from these sites, it also eliminates the cost of helicopter time to collect the data and is a much safer option.

Sixteen sites have been upgraded. The data is available online at http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snotel/Nevada/nevada.html.

Helping Students Learn about the Environment

Taylor McKenzie, a 3rd grade student at Explore Knowledge Academy in Las Vegas, needed help with her school science experiment. Her question was, "What ground material filters dirty water better?"

McKenzie loves science projects and was very excited about doing one using soil. She read books and researched the topic, and contacted NRCS soil scientist Doug Merkler. Doug explained to her how water travels through soil and provided her with most of the soils she needed for her experiment, such as fine sand loam and silty clay loam.

To test her hypothesis that silty clay loam would do the best job of cleaning dirty water, she used empty water bottles and cheesecloth to make the filter containers, and made dirty water using food coloring, oil, basil leaves, pepper and small pieces of paper. She filled each bottle with a different ground material (gravel, sand, fine sand loam, and silty clay loam). She then poured the dirty water into each one and watched to see which one came out the cleanest. Some of them filtered in minutes, one in hours and another in two days. After reviewing the results, she realized her hypothesis was correct; the silty clay loam filtered the cleanest water.

Taylor put together a project board with pictures for her class presentation and gave a demonstration to her fellow students. Her weeks of hard work paid off Taylor got 100% on her science project!

Richardville Irrigation Company Starts Construction on Pipeline

As irrigation season comes to an end in October, Richardville Irrigation Company begins construction on its delivery pipeline. Richardville Irrigation Company manages approximately four miles of delivery system, part of which is shared with two irrigation districts in central Pahranagat Valley. The combined delivery system carries water from Ash Springs to three miles south of Alamo. Pahranagat Valley is a narrow 50 mile long valley in the center of Lincoln County. The valley is a welcoming strip of green wetlands, meadows, and hayfields surrounded by the rocky and relatively barren Mojave Desert. Soon after entering the valley you see Alamo’s namesake, the cottonwood, lining current and historic watercourses and surrounding springs. The abundance of green vegetation is largely fed by springs with a total flow of about 35 cfs.

For over 20 years, irrigators in central Pahranagat Valley have worked on plans with the Natural Resources/Soil Conservation Service (NRCS) to replace the ditch delivery system with a pipeline. Since the 1960’s, a concrete lined ditch has supplied Richardville and the neighboring irrigation districts. The concrete lined ditch has outlived its expected life and is falling apart or missing in numerous sections. Lack of funding, lack of agreement or cooperation among landowners, and government agency regulations are the reasons that plans have gathered dust in files for decades.

Installing the delivery system presents numerous challenges, but the biggest challenge is working with the dozens of landowners impacted by the project. There are tales from the 1960’s when the conservation district spearheaded installation of the ditch and resorted to intoxication in some cases to gain cooperation of a certain landowner. In 2006, Alamo Irrigation Company was the first irrigation district in central Pahranagat Valley to get past the challenges and reasons that prevented work on the delivery system. Nine landowners signed up for a group project under NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to install about three miles of pipe in the town of Alamo. Although the landowners recognized the conservation benefits of the pipeline, safety concerns (children have drowned in the ditch) and elimination of litter (some residents used the ditch for trash disposal) were higher priority benefits of the pipeline. It took many hours of talking to landowners, some thick skin and patience, and searching for solutions that worked for the irrigation district and the landowners. Ed Stewart and Cleo Connell of Alamo Irrigation Company led the effort with assistance from NRCS staff in the Caliente Field Office.

In 2011, Alamo Irrigation Company completed the installation of pipeline in its nine mile delivery system. Small acreage irrigators now get to irrigate for their allotted time instead of waiting most of the allotted time for the water just to arrive at their property. All irrigators can water all of their fields in their allotted time because of higher, more consistent flows. The problems associated with the ditch are eliminated – no more rocks under every head gate, no more tumbleweeds clogging the water delivery, and no more trash in the irrigation water. In addition, landowners who were adversarial towards NRCS in the beginning are advocates for irrigation projects with NRCS.

Building on the success in Alamo, ten irrigators with Richardville Irrigation Company applied for and received EQIP assistance to install a pipeline delivery system. Like Alamo, the ten landowners represent the majority of water usage, but less than half of the landowners along the delivery system. Richardville Irrigation Company leaders including Ed Higbee, county commissioner, have gone door-to-door informing landowners about the project and held several pre-construction meetings. Work has begun on the drain crossing near the beginning of the east pipeline. Pipe fittings and pipe started arriving on October 13. Soon Pahranagat Valley residents will see the familiar winter sight of blue pipe snaking along the edge of the valley.

Great Basin Plant Materials Center and Agricultural Research Service test Searles Prairie Clover

Legumes are valuable in rangeland revegetation in the western USA because they provide food for insects, birds and other wildlife, and forage for livestock,as well as benefitting the soil by fixing nitrogen.  Many native legumes are toxic loco-weeds, but Searls prairie clover (Dalea searlsiae) is a non-toxic legume native legume.  It was first collected in 1871 near the Pahranagat Mountains in southeastern Nevada.  Plants produced at the ARS Forage and Range Lab at Logan, Utah were brought to Fallon by Dr. Doug Johnson, accompanied by student Zhao Fan.  NRCS State Office employees Albert Mulder, State Agronomist, and Bill Elder, Assistant State Conservationist for Operations, assisted with the planting.

The top five conservation practices planned in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, by amount of dollars obligated:

  • Irrigation Pipeline, Low Pressure

  • Irrigation System, Sprinkler

  • Water Control Structures

  • Pumping Plant

  • Brush Management

Top Resource Concerns:

  • Water Quality-Inefficient Use

  • Plant Condition

  • Soil Condition/Quality

  • Water Quality-Nutrients/Sediment

  • Water Quantity

Click here to download the 2012 Nevada NRCS Accomplishments Report (PDF; 2.9MB)

Locally-led Conservation Efforts Keep Toad Off of Endangered Species List

Dave Spicer holding toad

David Spicer, a rancher in Beatty, Nevada and founder of a non-profit organization, Saving Toads Though Off-Road Racing, Ranching and Mining in the Oasis Valley (STORM-OV), has successfully rallied his community to protect the Amargosa toad (Bufo nelsoni) and keep it off of the list of endangered species.

Partnering with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, other federal and state agencies, non-profit organizations, local government, fellow landowners, and by acquiring grants, Spicer and his STORM-OV partners have restored 11 springs, enhanced one mile of river, and created or enhanced 57 acres of toad breeding and foraging habitat mostly on private land.

The Amargosa toad was first petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act in 1994 due to threats which included invasive species, habitat loss, vegetation encroachment and ground water pumping. In response to the petition, an Amargosa Toad Working Group was formed to provide management and conservation guidance for the toad. Members of this group include the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, Nevada Natural Heritage Program, NRCS, Beatty Habitat Committee, Nye County, local residents, and the town of Beatty, Nevada.

The Fish and Wildlife Service was petitioned to list the toad a second time in 2008 and completed a 12-month review of the toad’s status in July 2010. The Service determined that the species did not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act, due to the coordinated conservation work by the local community, and agency partners. Their conservation efforts demonstrate that a community working together can help preclude the need to list a species.

"Managing to preserve a species is a monumental occurrence.  Pulling people together while doing it is a cosmic experience. I am moved by the results of what has happened here. This has been a long process, not in getting our toad healthy in his only home, but in creating a common goal that serves all of us . . . including our friend. Attention now comes to us regarding our successes, not our failures, a far cry from where we started. Instead of facing lawsuits, we receive praise. We should all congratulate ourselves in the fact that it can be done, as long as we continue to ‘make a difference everyday’. Trust in this." David Spicer

New Irrigation System Increases Crop Production for Moapa Paiute Tribe  

Moapa Tribe Farm crew and NRCS employees

The Moapa Band of Paiutes replaced a portion of the degraded concrete-lined ditch flood irrigation system on their farm with a more efficient wheel line sprinkler irrigation system, thanks to financial assistance from the Farm Bill’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The project will provide improved sprinkler irrigation for 181 acres of farmland on seven fields that produce forage crops. The improved irrigation delivery pipeline will also deliver irrigation water to six flood-irrigated fields consisting of 117 acres.

NRCS also worked with the Moapa Band to install a seasonal high tunnel and drip irrigation system. The seasonal high tunnel is being used for as Tribal community garden to supply fresh vegetables to the Tribal Senior Center cafeteria.

New Pocket Park in Beatty Makes Community a Better Place for Everyone

Beatty pocket park sign

The rural Nevada town of Beatty celebrated the grand opening of the Beatty Pocket Park this summer. Teri Knight, former Resource Conservation and Development Program coordinator, was instrumental in helping the community secure funding to establish the park, install a river trail, and clear debris and vegetation along the river.

Breeding habitat for the Amargosa Toad will also be protected by the new park.

"This might be the smallest park I’ve ever seen, a true "pocket park," said Edmunds, Mojave Office leader.

NRCS Helps Meet Demand for Local, Healthy Food Supplies in Las Vegas

STC Petersen and MSPO Leader Edmunds in front of Las Vegas high tunnel

In the city of Las Vegas and throughout Nevada, NRCS is helping local growers install seasonal high tunnels. The high tunnels, or hoop houses, are temporary structures that extend the growing season, enabling farmers to plant earlier and grow longer. Their popularity is on the rise. Eighteen high tunnels were installed in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, and more applications have been received for FY 2012.

In addition to extending the growing season, high tunnels help ensure a local supply of fresh produce for city residents and are helping connect people with the land, a goal of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative.

Sustaining Agriculture and Restoring Wetlands are Priorities for NRCS

John Hunt at native seed planting site

NRCS and the High Desert Resource Conservation and Development (HD RC&D) Council have been working with local ranchers to raise native seed on their farms. The seed is purchased by the Bureau of Land Management to reseed lands to native vegetation along rivers and restore wetlands and riparian areas invaded by noxious weeds. The project is a win-win situation since raising the seed provides a steady source of income for the farmers.

Earth Day 2012 Celebrated Across Nevada

Liz Warner, NRCS Nevada
April 24, 2012

Carson River Workday

Several events held in Nevada during April helped to celebrate Earth Day 2012.  NRCS teaches students about soil

The Smith Valley Conservation District sponsored an educational event at the Smith Valley school on April 12.  Students were guided through several hands-on activities, such as planting seeds, soil types, and wildlife habitat. NRCS soil scientist Matt Cole and his fiancé, Joyce Kammersell, an Earth Team volunteer (right), treated the students to samples of mud to eat -- to their delight.   

Matt said, "We used crushed-up Cocoa Rice Krispies to represent the smaller clay particles in soil and non-crushed Cocoa Rice Krispies to represent the larger sand particles in soil. We then poured milk on each to represent rain water infiltrating the soil.  The kids could then see how much faster the “rain water” soaked through the sandy (uncrushed) versus the clayey (crushed) soil. This helped illustrate the implications that soil particle size has on plant and water movement in soil. The crushed up Rice Krispies looked like actual soil, and since we had actual soil samples to show, we had to tell them that it was not actually soil and that they could eat it."

On April 18, the Lahontan Conservation District sponsored an educational event for elementary through high school students (top).  Organized by Linda Conlin, executive director of Nevada River Wranglers, and Jessi Eckert with the LCD, the event was conducted on the banks of the Carson River on the Norm and Sue Frey Ranch near Fallon.  FFA students from the Churchill County High School and other volunteers taught the younger students advanced topics such as the hydrologic cycle, different types of irrigation, wood duck box construction, and how a watershed functions.

soils education

tree planting

Almost 150 high school students from Yerington participated in a farmland restoration day, organized by Michelle Langsdorf and sponsored by the Mason Valley Conservation District, on April 19.  Students learned about noxious weeds, nonpoint source pollution, wildlife habitat, and soils (left).  They learned first-hand about the importance of water in soil during a revegetation exercise.  The students were tasked with planting shrubs along the irrigation canal, but the ground was so hard, a power auger was finally brought in to dig the holes (right).

Quizzes, demonstrations, and hands-on exercises made all three of these educational events stimulating and fun.

replanting at Bartley Ranch ParkWashoe County Parks and Recreation conducted a volunteer effort on April 21.  Over 50 volunteers, including NRCS staff and partners, participated in replanting areas of Bartley Ranch Park that were burned during a wildfire in October 2011 (left). 

Other events were held around the state, including a tree planting in Lovelock, sponsored by the Big Meadow Conservation District.

Earth Day was officially observed on April 22.  Earth Day was started in the United States in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson to create awareness for the Earth's environment and to encourage conservation efforts. In 1990, Earth Day was taken international, and today, more than 500 million people in 175 countries observe Earth Day. NRCS was proud to be a part of these activities to help the world accomplish a Billion Acts of Green!

Nevada River Wranglers
Water Conservation Pledge

I pledge to save water, to treat it with care, never to waste it, I wouldn't dare!  I will not pollute it.  I won't hesitate to tell other people of water's fragile state.  I pledge to conserve every drop that I can every day of the week.  This is my plan!

Native American Youths Improve Sage-Grouse Habitat

thinning pinyon juniper trees

Liz Warner, NRCS Nevada
January 10, 2012

An important meadow is fenced to protect critical habitat for sage-grouse.

In the middle of Nevada, miles from anywhere, eight Native American young adults spent their summer working to improve sagebrush habitat for the greater sage-grouse. Habitat for this ground-dwelling bird, native to much of the American West, has been dwindling in recent years, due to fencing, wildfires and invasive species.

The young adults, all residents of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation and the Battle Mountain Indian Colony, range in age from 18 to 26. They were happy to find work that would let them be outdoors and physically active. Their employment was made possible by a partnership between the Bootstraps Program of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension in Lander County and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The Bootstraps Program teaches life skills and job responsibility by combining formal classroom instruction with real outdoor work experience. NRCS’ role was to provide technical guidance and financial assistance through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Pinyon and juniper trees are cut to provide optimal growth conditions for native sagebrush.

The eight young people are working to restore sage-grouse habitat on 1,000 acres of public land and 400 acres of private land. Restoration means the removal of invasive pinyon pine and juniper trees in order to provide optimal conditions for the native sagebrush that provides food and cover for the greater sage-grouse.

In June, the Bootstraps workers received intensive training from Extension specialists covering use of chainsaws, two-way radios, satellite phones and GPS units, as well as safety, first aid and basic job skills. Once trained and equipped, they started work.

They removed only certain pinyon pine and juniper trees. They left old-growth trees standing, as well as trees on steep slopes, because removing them would create other problems, like erosion.

The cut trees were left on the ground to protect the soil from erosion and provide shelter for wildlife.

When the crew wasn’t cutting trees, they were fencing springs and meadow areas to protect them from overuse by livestock or wild horses. Meadows are critical habitat for young sage-grouse.

All of the young adults say they have enjoyed the experience—especially working outside, and with their hands.

Most of the pinyon pine and juniper will be cut this fall, and next year a new Bootstraps crew will finish it and start work in other areas.

Bottomless Watering Facility Installed On Rock Creek Ranch

bottomless water tank

Rock Creek Ranch, south of Golconda, recently installed a watering facility using cost share funding from the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), administered by the NRCS office in Winnemucca.

The system was designed for approximately 300 head of cattle.  A new submersible pump was installed in an existing well, with electrical power provided by new solar photovoltaic panels.  The pumped water is conveyed to two new bottomless troughs through a 1-1/2” diameter pipeline.  The troughs are composed of a 21 foot diameter corrugated metal ring embedded in a circular concrete slab.  To prevent ponding of water around the troughs, gravel was placed around the perimeter of the concrete slab.  Steel pipe was used to construct a barricade around the troughs.  The barricade will prevent livestock from walking into the troughs.  Wildlife escape ramps were also installed in the troughs to help wildlife escape if they fall into the water.

Contact Bill Pellersels at (775) 623-5025 x 109 for more information about this project.

Saving Precious Water

Mark Twain said, "Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over." Those words are still true today in the driest state in the Union and that’s why NRCS is working with farmers to install high-efficiency irrigation systems. In FY 2010, NRCS worked with agricultural producers to install 75 new systems, saving power and water.

Art Villalobos increased his irrigation efficiency by 30 percent, saving approximately 250 acre feet of water. An acre foot of water is equivalent to a foot of water spread of one acre, so that much water would be over 20 feet high. Villalobos installed a new, high-efficiency irrigation system on his farm in northern Humboldt County that is increasing his crop production as well as saving water. His previous gated pipe irrigation system was about 60 percent efficient.

Villalobos also likes the fact that he doesn’t have to manually adjust the irrigation system. "It’s all done electronically, which frees me up to work on other things," he said.

Villalobos worked with the NRCS office in Winnemucca to install the new system. Engineering Technician Bill Pellersels evaluated the old irrigation system and made recommendations on how Villalobos could save water and energy by installing the new system. NRCS provided cost-share assistance under the 2008 Farm Bill.

Villalobos, along with his father and brothers, grows alfalfa hay on several properties in Humboldt County. This is the second high efficiency irrigation system they have installed and he plans to install more.

Sustaining Working Ranches and Conserving Sage-Grouse Populations

In 2010, USDA launched a new and exciting effort to sustain working ranches and conserve greater sage-grouse populations in the West. The NRCS is using popular conservation programs including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) to assist producers in Nevada and 10 other western states to simultaneously improve habitat for sage-grouse and improve sustainability and productivity of their native rangelands.

greater sage-grouseIn just one year, NRCS Nevada, ranchers, and partners have:

• Implemented twenty one (21) contracts for conservation measures on both private and public land, obligating more than $1.7 million. Of this amount, $1,661,234 was infused into rural communities in labor, construction, and material costs.

• Engaged rural communities and partners in proactively enhancing sage-grouse habitat, potentially reducing the need for regulation under the Endangered Species Act.

• Removed 2,100 acres of pinyon and juniper woodlands that had encroached on sagebrush areas.

• Restored over 77,000 acres of rangeland to improve the quality and quantity of brood rearing and summer habitat for sage-grouse and increase forage for livestock.

• Removed over 10 miles of fence near sage-grouse lek areas to decrease mortality rates and installed over 9 miles of new fence to manage grazing.

Sage-grouse are an umbrella species. If their diverse habitat is protected, it protects other species, from pygmy rabbits to mule deer and migratory birds. Healthy ecosystems benefit everyone. Implementing these conservation measures will help keep sage-grouse off of the endangered species list and improve the bottom line for ranchers.

Protecting Wildlife Helps Rangeland

pinyon juniper removalTwo central Nevada ranchers are restoring sage-grouse habitat on public land, thanks to assistance through the NRCS Sage-Grouse Initiative. Within the next 5 years, pinyon and juniper trees will be removed from approximately 570 acres of key sage-grouse habitat on the east and west sides of the Desatoya Mountains to enhance sage-grouse movement from spring to summer range. Restoration efforts are a cooperative effort between two privately owned and operated cattle ranches, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Nevada Department of Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Division of Forestry, and the NRCS.

The rancher on the east side of the mountains has restored sage-grouse habitat on 150 acres of private land over the last eight years. Land treated includes degraded riparian areas and upland rangeland. Funding is providing an opportunity to expand pinyon and juniper treatment to adjacent public land which is an important part of the rancher’s ongoing effort to restore important wildlife habitat and sustain an economically viable cattle operation. The rancher on the west side of the mountains will remove pinyon and juniper trees that the BLM identified for treatment several years ago. The BLM has begun treatment on some of the identified acres.

High Tunnels Help Local Communities 

high tunnel

A farmer in Douglas County is really pleased with the results from the high tunnel he installed, thanks to financial assistance under the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program.

He installed the high tunnel, or "hoop house," in the summer of 2010 to ward off the first frost the area typically receives in mid-September. The high tunnel was very effective and extended the growing season to mid-November, enabling the farmer to feed his family fresh vegetables for about 6 weeks longer than usual. In addition, the farmer improved the soil with compost and did not use any commercial fertilizers or pesticides.

The landowner gave the extra produce to his employees and to a local food bank, further benefiting the community in the Carson Valley.

 

Helping People Help the Land