With drought being declared a natural disaster by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 26 states including Nevada, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is implementing measures to protect resources and provide for multiple uses on public lands.
"Modifying activities the BLM authorizes on public lands to limit the effects on drought stressed resources is a responsibility we take very seriously," said BLM Nevada State Director Amy Lueders. Across the state, a variety of actions have been taken by managers including banning fireworks to reduce the risk of wildfire, conducting an emergency wild horse gather to prevent further decline in the health of the animals as a result of reduced forage and water and working with permittees to adjust cattle grazing in order to protect riparian areas and minimize impacts related to drought conditions.
Grazing permittees have the option of pulling some cows from their allotments or going into voluntary nonuse. Additional options for managing cattle during drought include hauling water to places that have adequate forage or encouraging cattle to graze outside of riparian areas through the use of fencing or other means. The same goes for wild horses and burros. Alternatives exist for the BLM to haul water where adequate forage exists within a herd management area (HMA), moving them to other areas where forage and water exist or removing small numbers through water or bait trapping.
Drought also impacts species such as the Greater sage-grouse. Tall grasses that provide cover for sage-grouse is also forage for other animals so balancing the needs of various species is a priority for BLM managers that requires creativity and cooperation with partners, permittees and the public to ensure that needs are addressed.
"We need our partners and the public to make us aware of their issues and work with us to develop solutions to drought related problems," said Lueders. "By working together we can overcome the challenges presented by the drought and ensure resources are managed to maintain long term health and productivity."