Welcome Jordan Sheley

Jordan joins the High Desert Partnership as the Project Coordinator for the new BizHarney Collaborative. In this position Jordan will assist and promote entrepreneurial pursuits in Harney County as well as identify what is needed to ensure success as entrepreneurs. Learn about Jordan. >">

Harney County Wildfire Collaborative Update

Thursday, July 18, partners and stakeholders with the Harney County Wildfire Collaborative met to discuss partner updates and action reports and also take a field trip. The 24 in attendance visited 5 sites in the Stinkingwater area east of Burns to discuss the options and scale of this collaborative's future pilot project.
  • Resources for Rangeland Fire Protection Association members, a plan was put in place to evaluate their needs and determine how best to help where possible.
  • A severe fire season is underway; BLM and partners are actively working on resources and staffing for fire prevention and response.
  • Facilitators of the Harney County Wildfire Collaborative and Harney County Restoration Collaborative are working to bring the two groups together for a joint discussion about prevention and restoration.
  • Issues were identified and discussed with the Pueblo Mountains pilot project (more below about this project) and lingering questions are being identified and addressed. 
  • 5 sites were visited in the Stinkingwater area east of Burns to evaluate which will be the next pilot project. The terrain of the sites ranged from a highly degraded site due to the effects of fire and invasive vegetation, to a higher elevation site with lots of diserable brush and diverse vegetation along with young juniper. Initial discussions were had and lots of questions and possibilities were raised.
If you have any questions about the work of this collaborative, contact Ecological Coordinator Ben Cate at ben@highdesertpartnership.org. The next Wildfire Collaborative meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 16.

About the Pueblo Mountains Pilot Project

Following large-scale fires in 2012 and 2014, cumulatively burning nearly 1.5 million acres, High Desert Partnership convened the Harney County Wildfire Collaborative to address fire suppression, fire prevention, and restoration on a landscape scale. The Pueblo Mountain area was selected for a 26,400-acre pilot project effort based on a variety of issues:  
  • sage-grouse habitat
  • wildlife distribution
  • current vegetation
  • fire risk probability
  • effects of elevation
  • weather & climate impacts
  • past fires
  • accessibility
  • response times
  • availability of water
  • grazing history, and
  • Wilderness Study Area implications.
With fire prevention and restoration in mind, this project provides an opportunity to test and evaluate the effectiveness of various tools in decreasing the potential for and impacts of large-scale wildfires in Harney County, specifically an area within Pueblo Mountain. A rigorous monitoring plan has been developed. Collaborative partners will conduct tests, they'll track what happens, evaluate the results, make changes as needed and repeat until best practices are determined. For more about this project click here. 

Wildfire Info
With fire season upon us here are a few online resources for finding information about wildland fires and current fire prevention restrictions.

Carp + Wind

Carp and their destruction of Malheur Lake and Blitzen River vegetation continues and with that, the work to manage their population is ongoing.
Trapping Carp. Just up from Malheur Lake, on the refuge, is a fish trap along the Blitzen River. This trap is checked daily for carp and all carp captured are prevented from entering the Blitzen and mixing with the redband trout and other native fish. The fish collected in this trap are measured and weighed to determine an accurate length to weight ratio for carp that is site specific to Malheur Lake. Some additional testing is done as well to help in determining which management actions may be most effective in reducing carp numbers.

Malheur Lake Restoration. Twice a week on Malheur Lake, from the seat of an airboat, 8-12 locations are tested for water quality and light profile readings (how far light can penetrate into the lake). The data collected from these tests helps with understanding how light varies with turbidity (unclear water conditions caused by stirred up sediment), what types of suspended material contribute to turbidity, and what factors control the concentration of suspended material. This collected data will guide decisions about how to best restore Malheur Lake.
The abundance of carp over the years in Malheur Lake has devastated the lake's vegetation and caused sediment to remain suspended in the water. But there has been a reduction in the carp thanks to the use of commercial fishing. Commercial fisherman catch the carp which are processed into an organic fertilizer to be used in organic farming.
Despite what appears to be a reduction in the carp population, when you're out on the lake rather than seeing vegetation and the bottom of the lake, you see brown, murky water and pelicans, lots of pelicans, that feed on the carp. Due to a lack of vegetation many other bird species do not visit the lake in favor of other locations that have the food sources they need. Add to this wind. When wind moves across 7 mile wide Malheur Lake, waves rise which translates into swirls of water underneath the surface that stir up the sediment not grounded in place by vegetation, creating the brown, murky water. These turbid water conditions prevent light from reaching the lake bottom and allowing vegetation that provide bird habitat to regrow.
With this information and more, the Malheur Lake Working Group is meeting regularly to decide how to best move forward with Malheur Lake restoration.
How you can help . . . come fishing! The annual Carp Derby at Malheur Refuge is Saturday, August 18. Learn more.

August Events

Tuesday, August 7 | Harney County Restoration Collaborative Meeting 
Tuesday, August 14 | High Desert Partnership Board Meeting
Thursday, August 16 | Harney County Wildfire Collaborative Meeting 
Saturday, August 18 | Annual Carp Derby
Thursday, August 30 | Youth Changing The Community Collaborative Meeting

We like to believe that success happens in a straightforward path; but reality tells us it never happens that way. There are lots of twists and turns taking us up, down, backward and forward. When it comes to collaborating, we know getting to 'success' can be an unpredictable path; we embrace the unpredictability as we listen to every voice at the table. It's this unpredictability that makes our collaborative successes all the more rewarding.

You can be the difference!
Donate today and help us strengthen Harney County through collaboration. 
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