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Fairfield Fire site being seeded
July's Fairfield Fire in Sinks Canyon left a scarred area that is being seeded this week to prevent the spread of an invasive weed. Photo by Eric Blom

Fairfield Fire site being seeded

Oct 25, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The fire consumed more than 1,300 acres last summer in the Sinks Canyon area.

A helicopter scattered grass seed Wednesday on 300 acres of the 1,335-acre burn scar left by the Fairfield Fire in Sinks Canyon. Shoshone National Forest officials had decided to sow the seed to prevent cheatgrass from spreading to the area.

Cheatgrass is an invasive species and dries earlier in the season than native plants, contributing to wildfires, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Once it matures, it provides poor forage and its spiny seeds can injure browsing animals.

"It is a grass that grows very quickly and moves very fast," said Shoshone National Forest spokeswoman Kristie Salzmann. "They're trying to get ahead of it and keep it from doing that in this instance."

A helicopter will make several passes side-by-side, each time sowing a wide row of ground with seed, she said. Winter snows will provide moisture for the new plants.

Each acre will receive a mix of seeds: 2 pounds of Idaho fescue grass, 5 pounds of bluebunch wheat grass, 11 pounds of cereal rye, .25 pounds of mountain big sage and 2 pounds of

bitterbrush.

"As we head into spring and summer, as all of the vegetation grows, these should hopefully take hold as well," Salzmann said.

The Fairfield Fire burned for about two weeks after a lightning strike set it off July 17. The blaze first raced east from Fairfield Hill, threatening the Homestead Park subdivision.

A change of the wind then pushed the fire west into heavy timber. At its height, more than 200 firefighters and 11 aircraft battled the conflagration as it filled the Lander valley with smoke. Crews had fully contained the fire by July 28.

The 25,000-acre Hardluck, 1,800-acre Burroughs and 115-acre Lost Lake fires also scorched the Shoshone National Forest this year, but the Fairfield burn scar has been the only one to receive seeding.

Salzmann said forestry officials determine treatments for areas based on what they decide will be effective and taking into account budgetary constraints.

The seeding this fall is the only treatment planned for the Fairfield Fire area.

Related content:
 
Sinks Canyon
Fairfield Fire