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Wildlife to Help Reforest Pine Ridge Burn Areas

LINCOLN, Neb. – Natural resource officials in northwest Nebraska are turning to one of the oldest forms of seed dispersal to replace some of the countless trees and shrubs that were burned in the 2012 Pine Ridge forest fires.

Blocks containing seeds of native trees and shrubs soon will be fed to the region’s wild animals, which are expected to “deposit” the seeds in remote areas of the region’s rugged landscape.

Shelley Steffl of Chadron, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission wildlife biologist leading the effort, said the project is intended to move seeds to the most remote areas of the Pine Ridge and complement future forest rehabilitation efforts.

Eight hundred of the blocks have been created. The blocks contain seeds for 12 native species of trees and shrubs, including deciduous varieties such as Rocky Mountain maple and conifer species, including ponderosa pine. The ingredients are listed on a biodegradable label that quickly falls apart when exposed to moisture.

Steffl said one of the greatest challenges of the project was developing a recipe that contains the right ratio of molasses and livestock mineral to keep the blocks from falling apart.

A grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust was used to help with a portion of funding for the project. The blocks are available to landowners for $3 per block. Landowners who want to be placed on a list for the blocks may contact Steffl at 308-432-6190 or visit the Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District, 430 E. Second St., Chadron.

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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