It seems like a herculean task, but every acre counts when recovering the landscape from a massive burn.
After the Evans Canyon Fire devastated approximately 60,000 acres in the Wenas Wildlife Area last summer, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is spearheading a joint effort to reseed the terrain ravaged by the fire. A collaboration of volunteers on the ground has worked in tandem with aerial reseeding efforts that has resulted in approximately 1300 acres being treated to date.
After the fire was extinguished, WDFW Wenas Wildlife Area Manager Cindi Confer Morris said the first step was to determine what funding was available for the reseeding effort and where it would come from.
“That took a little bit of time,” she said.
A significant part of the planning process involved determining what kind of seed to use. Confer Morris reached out to a seed company that specializes in native seed blends to determine what blends should be used. The blend was tweaked slightly for different areas in the wildlife area, as some exposures and terrain types within the area have unique growing characteristics. Confer Morris said the seed grower suggested the addition of sterile triticale wheat seed to help erosion control during the oncoming spring months.
“The idea is that it would come up a little faster in the spring and give some stability to the soil,” she said.
Another factor in the planning was developing a priority system for areas to be reseeded. Confer Morris said the Bureau of Land Management conducted a burn severity map of the area, which she said significantly aided the planning process. By understanding what areas burned the hottest, she said it was easier to determine which areas would have less viable seed left in the ground naturally after the burn.
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