If you think the wildfire season is over, habitat restoration biologists like Nate Long would remind you that with this hazard, the work is only switching gears.
Long works for the Division of Wildlife Resources in northern Utah and is currently on a project to reseed 25,000 acres of 68,000 acres that burned in Utah in the Goose Creek Fire earlier in the summer.
“So right now we’re drill seeding and flying seed on with a plane," Long said. "The drill seed is just a rangeland drill that’s a large implement that’s pulled behind a tractor and puts the seed in the ground.”
Different methods are necessary for different sites because the landscape isn’t always easily accessible. It’s a big job, one that Long says couldn’t be accomplished without assistance from groups like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), The Grazing Improvement Program and private landowners who were affected by the fire.
“So, it’s really critical to act quickly after the fire before invasive species such as cheatgrass establish. There’s a window of opportunity that allows us to capture the site by doing the seeding right after," Long said.
Wildfire is a natural occurrence and preventing it all together can result in the dangerous buildup of fuels, however, appropriate measures also have to be taken following a wildfire to ensure that critical habitats and wildlife are not lost.
“All of the fire was within the Box Elder sage grouse management area, so along with grasses and forbs that sage grouse utilize, they’re obligated to sagebrush which means they don’t survive without sagebrush," Long said. "So that will be one of the critical components of our seeding efforts is to re-establish the sagebrush where we can.”