The Nevada Department of Wildlife has teamed up with the Reno chapter of Nevada Bighorns Unlimited to gather money for use in wildland rehabilitation efforts following this summer's disastrous fire season.
Wildfires in Nevada burned more than 1.3 million acres in 2006, two thirds of which were in Elko County. The Bighorns-Nevada Wildfire Disaster Fund has been set up to allow individuals and interested organizations to donate money to help buy seed and pay for its dispersal over scorched winter ranges.
"We lost huge amounts of wildlife habitat in these fires. There is a short window of opportunity to begin rehabilitation efforts as soon as possible," according to Dave Pulliam, Habitat Bureau Chief for the wildlife department.
The department has channeled $708,000 of habitat conservation fees from hunting and trapping licenses and state bond money to rehabilitation efforts.
"Frankly, we need a lot more money to have a chance of being successful," Pulliam said. "The $708,000 will only pay for rehabbing about 5 percent of the burned acreage. We need to do more than that."
The fund was formed on the heels of Gov. Kenny Guinn's authorization of the largest emergency hunt in state history to thin herds in northeast Nevada, where the fires blackened a Rhode Island-sized area of prime wildlife and livestock habitat.
"We are reaching out to anyone who loves wildlife," Bighorn Vice President Jim Nelson said.
"All of the money donated to this fund will go to rehabilitation efforts now and well into the future. Since wildfires are a yearly event in Nevada, we plan on keeping this fund going so we can help NDOW better react to wildland rehabilitation needs."