The Nevada & California Chapters of BHA are coordinating an effort to restore the Hallelujah Junction Wildlife Area (HJWA), a critical winter range for mule deer and a premium deer hunt zone that burned in several recent wildfires. Help us to collect bitterbrush seeds that will be then be propagated by inmates at FCI Herlong in order to restore this important wildlife area.
The HJWA is a property in Northeastern California along the Nevada border that was purchased by the CDFW to maintain critical winter range for multiple deer herds as well as habitat for pronghorn antelope and rocky mountain elk. The area spans two of California’s premium deer hunt zones X6B & X7A and has been historically sought after by many deer hunters in the State. The wildlife area also lies over the Washoe Tribe’s ancestral lands, where the Tribe hunted deer and pronghorn on their seasonal migration routes and fished from Long Valley Creek, which bisects the HJWA. This property burned in several wildfires over the past two decades, which destroyed much of the local flora critical to supporting the local wildlife. The CDFW attempted to restore this landscape after a major burn through aerial seed drops; however, this attempt was mostly unsuccessful. Unfortunately, the failed restoration attempt and subsequent wildfires have left the landscape vulnerable to invasive species, such as cheat grass, pepperweed and others, which threaten to degrade critical habitat relied upon by the interstate, migratory mule deer in the Loyalton-Truckee and Doyle herds, as well as a population of resident deer and pronghorn antelope.
To ensure successful outcomes, volunteers will first source seeds from healthy plant stocks in the project region to ensure seedling adaptability to local environmental conditions. Several regions within the HJWA that were not affected by wildfire contain healthy bitterbrush plants, for which CDFW has successfully collected seed in past restoration attempts in the area. If anyone is available to join on Friday afternoon, will be working with James Gatzke, an Environmental Program Coordinator for the Washoe Tribe to map out and plan seed collection efforts of culturally significant plants in the nearby region to include with our restoration efforts.
Our project will utilize the Sagebrush in Prisons Project’s program at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Herlong, coordinated by the Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE), to help propagate sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings. Utilizing seedlings will increase our chances of planting success up to tenfold depending on specific site conditions and weather. IAE manages the Sagebrush in Prisons project at eleven prisons in five different states and works with adults in custody to propagate native plants for wildlife habitat restoration. This program has grown over 1.5 million sagebrush and bitterbrush plants for restoration projects since its inception in 2014.
The healthy bitterbrush stands on the Hallelujah Junction Wildlife Area have flowered and the seeds are ready to harvest. We will be looking to harvest at least 10lbs of seed to ensure we have enough to grow the ~20,000 plants at FCI Herlong next year.
Bring plenty of water, a hat, good hiking shoes, sun protection and appropriate clothing. We will meet at the North end of the Bordertown Casino parking lot before heading into the Wildlife Area.
Lunch will be provided for those that RSVP!