130,000 seedlings take root in Waterfall fire burn area
Appeal Staff Writer
The U.S. Forest Service expects 130,000 new residents to implant themselves in the hills damaged by the Waterfall fire two years ago. They aren’t looking for much – a clear patch of ground, a little sunlight and a chance to take root.
On Monday, crews contracted by the Forest Service began planting pine tree seedlings in burn areas covering 435 acres from Kings Canyon to Washoe Valley. The crew, that can plant up to 18,000 seedling in a day depending on the terrain, planted what could have been the 40,000th tree Wednesday in North Carson City.
The total cost to transplant the trees is $200,000 Planting is expected to take two weeks.
“When you don’t have trees, you lose a solid watershed. Secondly it supports wildlife habitat and finally its aesthetics,” said Franklin Pemberton, Forest Service public affairs officer. “We are the backdrops for the capital city so it needs to look good.”
The Forest Service keeps a frozen storage of seeds for every region of forest in the country. Immediately following the fire, 100,000 Jeffrey Pine and 30,000 Ponderosa Pine seeds were planted at nurseries in California and Oregon.
Now that the seedlings are strong enough to be transplanted, a 27-person crew from MQ Reforestation of Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, has been contracted to plant the seedlings. The crew had to wait for the soil temperature to be 40 degrees before planting the trees.
“We have to have professional crews do it because we do inspections to make sure the trees are planted correctly for the best chance of survival,” Pemberton said.
Lead inspector Sharon Chase, of Horseshoe Bend, has been restoring forests for more than 25 years.
“We check to make sure there is a two-foot scalp around the trees and that there are a certain number of trees in a 16.6-foot area,” Chase said.
Once the trees are planted, each is fitted with a protective plastic tube designed to create a micro-environment and regulate the flow of water and heat to the plant.
“We don’t want a park look. We want it to look like a forest, we want to plan it to look random,” Pemberton said.
Homeowner Lee Carter, whose Wagon Wheel Road home sits 100 feet from the reforestation area, said he is glad to see the city and Forest Service working to rehab the area.
“They have gotten rid of the burned out trees, cleared the brush and now the new ones are going in,” Carter said. “I think this is wonderful. The Forest Service and the firefighters have just been amazing through all of this.”
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at email@example.com or 881-1217.