Headed out to Ely, NV to take care of some work chores. Among them was a visit to the Rye Grass fire that burned in 2010 on BLM and private land. For anyone who knows the area this fire was in the Kerns near the Deep Creek Range on the NV/UT border. There is a great little polygamist enclave out there. The vegetation was mountain sagebrush mixed with Pinyon-Juniper up into fir/aspen types at the higher elevations. The area was seeded with a mix of mostly native species with one non-native (kochia) put onto the private land at the request of the landowner. The response from the seeding has been nothing short of amazing.
If every seeding I was involved with turned out like this one, we’d all be geniuses. But well timed precipitation doesn’t always happen and when it does the results can be pretty darn good. The photos show the results after on winter and spring with good snowfall and rain.
The first photo is of the fire from the south. The photo is taken in the Kern Mountains looking north and east. In the background is the Goshute Indian Reservation and the Deep Creek Mountains are just out of view to the right.
The next photo is about eight months later and shows some of the results of our seeding efforts with some annual sunflowers (Helianthus sp.) and Rocky Mountain bee plant (Cleome sp.). We are trying to plant more annuals to attract more pollinators which in turn may help with greater seed set in the forbs we plant.
Next shots are of the ground cover. One interesting result has been the density (individual plants per square meter) over the extent of this seeding. In some places, there were as many as 70 individuals per square meter. That indicates pretty high initial success for any planting, especially one in the Great Basin where moisture is scarce.
A second cool result has been the initial germination rate for sagebrush seeds. In spite of the amounts of sagebrush you see when driving across the Great Basin, it is not so easy to get it to grow from seed. (Several dissertations and theses to be done on that…anyone, anyone).
I was up at the fire site the first time about 10 days after the burn and one of the things that jumped out at me was the numbers of lupine individuals that had resprouted. The two photos below are in the same spot and the first was taken ten days after the fire was contained and the second is roughly the same spot the following spring. Lupine is pretty amazing to bounce back only days after a fire.