The project will help wildlife habitat recover from last summer’s South Fork Complex Fire, which burned more than 60,000 acres in the Murderers Creek basin.
“Herbicide applications are intended to limit the spread of invasive winter annual grass species including Medusahead rye and cheat grass,” says Dan Marvin, wildlife area manager. “Winter annuals pose a significant threat to the ecological health of the area and function of wildlife habitat by replacing the bitterbrush, sage-brush and other forage wildlife need.“
Timing the application of herbicide is critical to overall restoration goals following wildfire. “Application must occur prior to significant spring growth of remaining perennial bunchgrass species in order to limit the spread of winter annual grass species and for successful reseeding,” said Marvin.
BLM spraying operations will begin on March 19, 2015 and are expected to end before the wildlife area reopens to public access on April 15. (The wildlife area is closed to all public access from Feb. 1-April 14 each year to protect wintering big game.) Similar activities were conducted by ODFW last fall on an additional 6,500 acres on the wildlife area.
Purchased in 1972 by ODFW and operated in conjunction with BLM, the Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area is managed primarily for wintering wildlife. The 51,927 acre area is home to approximately 3,000 mule deer, 800 elk, and 150 bighorn sheep during the winter. About 80 pronghorn antelope spend summer on the wildlife area.
For further information regarding the BLM spraying procedure and plan contact the BLM Prineville District Office at 541-416-6700.