Hungry sheep eating fuels in Jacks Valley
As part of the Carson Ranger District’s Hazardous Fuels Reduction Program, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest recently released sheep in the Jacks Valley Wildlife Management Fuels Reduction Project area just south of Jacks Valley Road.
From approximately mid-October through November, the sheep will consume cheatgrass and other non-native vegetation over a 3,000-acre project area on National Forest System lands.
“Cheatgrass is an aggressive non-native species outcompeting our native vegetation,” said Fuels Specialist Steve Howell. “It eventually pushes out our native grasses and shrubs from their natural habitat. Cheatgrass plants also create an exceptional fuel bed for wildfire spread and can be a threat to communities.”
The Forest has contracted Gardnerville’s Borda Land & Sheep Co. to perform the grazing project. Approximately 1,200 ewes will be released and monitored by herders and livestock guard dogs.
“This program is an important collaboration to help keep the Jack Valley and surrounding communities safe from destructive wildfire,” said Carson District Ranger Matt Zumstein. “Grazing sheep is a cost-effective, low-impact, and natural way to efficiently reduce the spread of this invasive species.”
The Jacks Valley Wildlife Management Fuels Reduction Project areas is a popular place for people to hike with their dogs. However, this popularity can result in incidents where off-leash dogs are harassing the sheep. Both uses can coexist as long as the public abides by the Douglas County animal ordinances and posted trail rules for dogs.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep all dogs leashed while hiking through the area where sheep are grazing,” said Howell. “No matter how well trained a dog is, their instinct to chase could put them and the sheep in danger.”