A quick post to talk a bit about fires we are having in Nevada in summer 2012. I put a map below that shows a general location of most of the larger fires and how the fire relates to sage-grouse habitat. The sage-grouse habitat category map is a work in progress. A quick and dirty assessment of the fire impacts for this summer is…largely bad. Unfortunately much of the fire we’ve had is burning in Wyoming sagebrush, low or black sagebrush and mountain brush communities that have not burned in a long time. The Holloway, Rush, Lost and Willow fires are examples. See map and see inciweb.org for lots of information on most wildfires in the western US. The North Schell, White Rock and 20 Mile fires are examples where the fire will have immediate good results or good vegetation return in a few years. Lots of variables on why the vegetation following fire will respond one way or another. How much cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is in the understory pre-fire? How many desirable species were in the understory? If there was high understory species diversity the system will often recover well from disturbances such as fire and if there was low species diversity then the response can be less desirable. More on that later.
We’ve got lots of work to do to assess the fire effects on a site by site basis and then put a plan into action. Put seeds out? Don’t put seeds out? Get shrubs growing in greenhouses then plant them next year? How to control non native weeds that reduce the quality of the habitat for wildlife? Anyway…gonna post more on this.