Carson City—As part of the Carson Ranger District’s Hazardous Fuels Reduction Program on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, sheep have been released to graze on two separate fuels reduction project areas. These sheep help remove cheatgrass and other non-native vegetation from National Forest System (NFS) lands. The West Carson Fuels Project is located on the west side of Carson City, Nevada, and the Arrowhawk Fuels Reduction Project is located on the west side of Reno, Nevada. Grazing began this year on April 13 and will continue through the end of the cheatgrass growing season in mid-summer.

The West Carson Fuels Project area is approximately 500 acres and is located southeast of King’s Canyon Road near the C-Hill area in Carson City, Nevada. The Arrowhawk Fuels Reduction Project area is about 1,000 acres and is located approximately 10 miles southwest of Reno, Nevada, and just west of the Arrowcreek Residential Area urban interface. Grazing in the project is occurring within the Thomas Creek and Whites Creek watersheds north of Timberline Road.

“Cheatgrass is an invasive species that has the potential to dominate an area if not managed,” said Fuels Forester Anna Belle Monti. “It can outcompete native vegetation, eventually pushing native grasses and shrubs out of their normal habitat. Cheatgrass plants also create an exceptional fuel bed for wildfire and can be a threat to surrounding communities.”

The Forest has contracted with the Borda Land & Sheep Company out of Gardnerville, Nevada, to perform the grazing projects. Approximately 700 ewes are being used for each grazing area and each flock is monitored by herders and livestock guard dogs.

“This program is an important measure to help keep our communities safe from fire,” said Kevin Wilmot, Acting Carson District Ranger. “Grazing sheep is a cost-effective and efficient way to fight the spread of the problematic invasive species.”

Monti reminds dog owners hiking in both project areas to keep dogs leashed at the trailheads and within one mile of the trailheads. Last summer there were a number of incidents where off-leash dogs harassed the sheep herds. Livestock guard dogs are present with the sheep herds and they instinctively will guard the herd against any form of predator that it feels is a threat.

“For the safety of both the dogs and the sheep grazing on these fuels reduction projects, we cannot stress enough the importance of following the county ordinances and area trail rules for leashing dogs in these areas,” said Monti. “The sheep grazing program helps keep our communities safe from fire, but we are only able to graze the sheep if we all work to keep the sheep and our pets safe from harm. With participation from our visitors, both uses can coexist for everyone’s benefit.”

“We appreciate the efforts of the National Forest Service to address wildland fuels, especially cheatgrass, through sheep grazing in order to help reduce the threat of wildfires this season,” said Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District Fire Chief Charles Moore.  “We ask our residents to be mindful of the grazing and ensure their pets are secured if they plan to be in the grazing areas with pets.  Additionally, we expect a robust wildfire season given the winter moisture we experienced and remind our residents to remain vigilant and avoid outdoor activities that could start a wildfire.”

For more information on the Carson Ranger District Hazardous Fuels Reduction Program, contact Scott Kizziar at 775-884-8142.