Newmont’s Elko Land and Livestock Company places a major emphasis on the preservation and enhancement of our wildlife and its habitat. Over the years, we have implemented several successful programs, some on which include:
Mule Deer Habitat Rehabilitation
The Dunphy Hills, located along the interstate in the southern end of Boulder Valley, is a major wintering ground for northern Nevada’s mule deer herd. In 1985, this winter range was ravaged by wildfire, and the burned areas became infested with cheatgrass – an invasive, non-native annual grass. Cheatgrass has very little feed value for wildlife or livestock. The winter of 1992-1993 was severe, with deep snow and subzero temperatures. With the browse plant species gone from the winter range, the 2,500 to 3,000 mule deer wintering there suffered greatly. It is estimated that by spring, more than 2,000 deer had perished on the Dunphy Hills.
In 1993, Newmont’s TS Ranch began the rehabilitation of the Dunphy Hills mule deer winter range. Over the past 20 years, in a cooperative effort among Newmont, the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the TS Ranch, more than 8,000 acres of critical mule deer habitat have been rehabilitated and reestablished within the Dunphy Hills. In 1998, the ranch was awarded the Nevada Excellence in Mine Land Reclamation for these efforts. Today, Newmont’s rangeland rehabilitation work continues on more than 60,000 acres in the area.
Maggie Creek Watershed Restoration
Located in the northern portion of the TS Ranch is the Maggie Creek Watershed, home to the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. The Lahontan Cutthroat is the Nevada State Fish, and a federally listed threatened species. A hundred years of unsound grazing practices throughout the area, drought, and violent spring runoffs caused extreme damage to many streams and riparian areas on the ranch, and impacted the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout habitat.
In 1993, as part of a mine management and mitigation project, Newmont’s TS Ranch commenced the Maggie Creek Watershed Restoration Project. Newmont worked with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Nevada Department of Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, neighboring Maggie Creek Ranch, and Trout Unlimited to build a robust and successful partnership. Working with these partners, the project was designed to enhance and protect more than 2,000 acres of riparian habitat, 40,000 acres of upland watershed and 82 miles of stream channel.
Today, the watershed’s stream banks have stabilized with increased vegetation shading the stream and keeping it cool during the summer. Trapped sediments have formed bars, causing the stream to meander and develop deep pools. The endangered Lahontan Cutthroat Trout now thrive in this improved environment.
The habitat and its wildlife population, continue to grow and improve. Over the years, thousands of willows and hundreds of trees have been planted by local volunteers and school children. Hundreds of acres of wetlands have been developed, providing habitat to waterfowl, shore birds and other wildlife. Thousands of upland birds have been released including pheasants, chukar, California valley quail and wild turkey. In 1992, less than 25 American Pronghorn Antelope could be found on the entire TS Ranch. In a census conducted in January 2002, just 10 years later, more than 500 antelope were counted in Boulder Valley.
Greater Sage-grouse and the Sagebrush Ecosystem
Greater Sage-grouse are large, ground-dwelling birds native to the sagebrush ecosystem of the western United States. Virtually all aspects of the bird’s life include sagebrush and associated habitats. In Nevada, the loss of habitat due to wildfires subsequent invasion of weedy annual grasses (cheatgrass) is the largest threat to grouse habitat and populations.
Much of Newmont’s current and future mineral exploration and mine development activity in Nevada is in the sagebrush ecosystem and within Greater Sage-grouse habitat. Newmont has addressed habitat-related impact mitigation through actions on Newmont-owned lands. These actions include habitat restoration, wildlife-friendly fencing, water developments and vegetation management – including prescribed fire, re-vegetation and grazing management. About 15,000 acres on the TS Ranch have been specifically treated to benefit Greater Sage-grouse. The rehabilitation success of these treatments, as well as the success of Maggie Creek Watershed Restoration Project, is well recognized by our stakeholders.
We are currently working with The Nature Conservancy to design cost-effective conservation and rehabilitation and restoration treatments on three Newmont ranches. Newmont continues to develop and implement appropriate land, grazing, and wildlife management practices to recover and enhance the ecological integrity of the sagebrush ecosystem.
Nevada Sagebrush Ecosystem Conservation Program