Following the first major project in the Pueblo Mountains, the wildfire collaborative chose the Stinkingwater Mountains as the next project landscape centered on restoration as the group looks to prevent another catastrophic wildfire in the area. In 2014 five fires grew together forming the Buzzard Complex Fire. This catastrophic wildfire burned almost 400,000 acres which included more than 100,000 acres in the Stinkingwater Mountains area charring sagebrush sea landscape, killing and injuring livestock and damaging property.
The Stinkingwater Mountains rise up out of the Harney Basin between Buchanan and Drewsey; the project area encompasses 312,000 acres of this mountain region close to the towns of Burns and Crane. The land is south of Highway 20 and north of Crane Venator Road and includes a mix of private land ownership and Bureau of Land Management acreage.
This is an area that has frequent lightning strikes and so frequent fires. Because the area has burned before, invasive annual grasses such as cheatgrass and medusahead have replaced the native annual bunch grasses. On this vast landscape HCWC is working to coordinate actions among the Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resource Conservation Service and private landowners.
Some of these actions include:
• controlling the invasive annual grass population;
• decreasing the number of Juniper trees;
• increasing the volume of large perennial bunchgrasses;
• creating fuel breaks; and
• making every effort to participate with private landowners, the Crane RFPA and the Burns Paiute Tribe.
Through these actions and others, over the long term the collaborative is working toward:
• a landscape that is resilient to wildfire;
• a landscape that contains fuel load amounts, types and patterns that help suppression efforts
• and result in smaller, more frequent fires that help create a healthy fire tolerant landscape;
• a landscape that provides both livestock forage and wildlife habitat; and
• strong relationships that make this and future projects possible.
About Potential Operational Delineations (PODs) and the role they play in the Stinkingwater Mountains as a wildfire resilience tool.
Potential Operational Delineations are a tool that delineates areas within a landscape by integrating:
Why might the Harney County Wildfire Collaborative use a PODs approach in the Stinkingwater? Given the realities of our fire-prone landscape, by identifying PCLs for a given fire incident, PODs can be useful before, during, and after fires to promote rangeland values at risk.
*(What are PCLs? Features such as roads, fuel breaks or other topographic features that can potentially serve as locations from which fire managers could control a fire.)
Timeline of achievements through 2022
Acronym list: BLM/Bureau of Land Management;, SWCD/Soil Water Conservation District; NRCS/Natural Resource Conservation Service; ODFW/Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife; HDP/High Desert Partnership; RFPA/Rangeland Fire Protection Association; PCL/Potential Control Line; POD/Potential Operational Delineation