Will northeastern Nevada’s burn-scarred landscape be reseeded in time for the spring growing season, or will we be left with a thousand-square-mile cheatgrass monument to government incompetence?
Nevada Department of Wildlife this week seeded a small portion of two small fires in the Ruby Mountains. High Desert Imaging helped out with a $10,000 donation, challenging other businesses to contribute to landscape restoration.
But what about the widespread damage from blazes in northern Elko County?
“Two massive fires that swept through the Great Basin in 2018 burned more than one million acres of public land used for grazing, hunting and recreation that supports rural economies,” wrote journalist Daniel Rothberg of The Nevada Independent. “To preserve the land and avoid future fires, which are often fueled by flammable invasive grasses, the state planned to reseed the burned areas this winter with help from the federal government.”
Nevada State Forester and Firewarden Kacey KC told CNN that fire mitigation efforts generally take place in the off season.
“All of that has been stalled,” she said. “We are coming forward with what we think we know, but it’s hard without our federal colleagues in the room.”
Those workers should be back in the office next week under a temporary restoration of government announced Friday.
Many rural Nevadans employed by federal land management agencies have been missing paychecks during the longest shutdown in history. At least one of them is getting attention from as far away as New York City.
The New Yorker website this month ran an article titled “What the Shutdown Means for a Federal Worker with Debts to Pay.” The piece by Charles Bethea is mostly made up of quotes from an unnamed Forest Service wildlife biologist from Elko County talking about the trouble she is having making ends meet.
“I’m worried about how long my health insurance will last with a prolonged shutdown,” she wrote the author in an email.
“Counting other agencies, there are probably hundreds of furloughed government workers in Elko County, out of about fifty thousand people,” she added. “The shutdown is impacting our hiring — in the summer, that number of federal employees balloons to thousands, because of all the firefighters and seasonals.”
According to an article in The Nevada Independent, the shutdown left more than 3,000 Nevadans out of work – two-thirds of them employed by the Department of Interior.
Nationwide, the number of furloughs has been about 800,000.
Let’s hope they all return to their jobs and get something done before President Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi crawl back into their sandbox.