BIA NOXIOUS WEED FUNDING PROPOSAL – 2008 Submitted by: Summit Lake Paiute Tribe of Nevada November 30, 2007 PROGRAM SUMMARY This program proposes to initiate a tribal noxious weed management program designed to enhance the biodiversity of flora endemic to the Summit Lake Paiute Reservation and surrounding area in partnership with Federal, State, and non-profit organizations. The proposed program will provide services to enhance tribal capacity to treat noxious weeds within the reservation through employment and training opportunities, procurement of equipment and supplies, and soliciting technical expertise and assistance from Federal, State, and non-profit organizations to train tribal staff and develop and design invasive weed inventory and monitoring activities. Noxious weeds invading rangeland and riparian habitats will be treated during a three to four week growing period (typically in June), by a team of tribal staff and/or contractors after satisfying National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) compliance, and successful completion of herbicide applicator certification and training to identify and treat noxious weeds. Noxious weed treatment plots or polygons will be mapped using GIS technology to monitor effectiveness of treatment. Tribal Natural Resource Department personnel will actively participate in State and local noxious weed working groups to keep current on noxious weed treatments, and funding initiatives. The program, if funded, will cost-share payment for the following: Time of the Natural Resource Director (NRD) to administrate the program; salary of a Resource Technician to oversee field work, including noxious weed treatment, monitoring, and GIS mapping; training of tribal staff; employment of one seasonal team leader; employment of three seasonal workers; and procurement of necessary equipment and supplies. The funding request for direct project cost of this proposal amounts to $41,775. This cost would provide funding to treat 800 acres of dry meadowland and riparian habitat associated with Mahogany and Snow Creeks, One Mile Spring and Summit Lake shorelines. This cost can be negotiated with concordant reduction of area to be treated. PROGRAM NARRATIVE Geographic Location The Summit Lake Paiute Reservation (Reservation) remotely located in northwestern Humboldt County, Nevada occupies about 12,000 acres, classified by West (1983), as Inter-Mountain Basin Big Sagebrush Steppe. The reservation surrounds Summit Lake, a terminal, high desert lake, situated in a valley at an elevation of 5,700 feet above mean sea level. The area of the lake is about 700 acres and varies dependent on climate. Surface water flowing into Summit Lake includes two perennial stream systems or sub- watersheds: Mahogany Creek and Snow Creek. Headwaters of Mahogany and Snow Creek sub-watersheds are off the reservation. There are a number of perennial and intermittent springs within the basin, including: One Mile Spring, and numerous unnamed springs. 1 The Reservation is surrounded by approximately 2.5 million acres of protected Federal land including Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge to the north and west, the Black Rock Desert – High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area to the south, and the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Natural Area and Wilderness Study Area to the east. Because most of these lands are managed to retain their natural character, there has been increased public use of the area. As a consequence vehicular traffic from hunters, campers, and off-road enthusiasts has increased through time. The spread of noxious weeds from vehicles traveling through the reservation is a real and imminent threat. Assessment of Need, Noxious Weed Occurrence, Land Use and Project Ownership Summit Lake and its associated perennial tributaries are occupied by naturally reproducing Lahontan cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki henshawi), a Federally threatened fish species (USFWS 1994). A recovery plan for Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT) lists Summit Lake as native habitat for one of two remaining self-sustaining lake dwelling populations. Because of the importance of Summit Lake LCT for recovery and tribal culture purposes, natural resource management activities have focused on conservation of LCT and habitat. Beginning in 1981 when the Tribe established their fisheries management program, conservation measures were initiated to minimize livestock grazing impacts on LCT habitat. In 1983, the Tribe began construction of grazing exclosures to protect streambanks and the riparian corridor of Mahogany Creek from livestock grazing. Mahogany Creek is the primary spawning tributary for Summit Lake LCT. By 1995 the entire Mahogany Creek corridor within the reservation had been fenced to exclude livestock access to the stream. Stream habitat has responded favorably from livestock grazing exclosures (Chaney et al. 1990) by narrowing the stream channel, replacing a silt dominated substrate with clean gravels better suited for aquatic invertebrate production and LCT spawning and rearing purposes, and cooling of water temperatures from greater canopy and shade over the stream. In 1997, the Tribe adopted an ordinance prohibiting discharge of pollutants into the waters of the Summit Lake Paiute Reservation, including non-point source pollution from livestock grazing. As a consequence, livestock grazing became more restrictive on the reservation. Recently the entire Summit Lake Reservation has been rested from grazing for a period of three years, and more than half of the reservation has not been grazed by livestock for a period of ten years. For the past two decades, the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe (Tribe) has initiated infrastructure improvements to improve living conditions on the reservation, and promote economic development and self-sufficiency for the Tribe. In 1992, an electric power line was constructed bringing electricity to the reservation. In 2000, the Tribe adopted a Land Use Plan designed to guide development of the reservation (SLPT 2000). This plan presented implementation strategies addressing land use, housing, economic development, open space, rangelands, public facilities and services. 2 Tribal revenue has been generated by the sale of LCT spawn from 1950 – 1980s and from livestock grazing permits. Annual revenue ranged from zero to $20,000, with the greatest revenues occurring in the late 1970s to early 1980s. In the 1980s, the abundance of LCT declined causing the discontinuance of selling spawn. Grazing permits were annually negotiated from 1960 – 1986. After 1986, the reservation has sporadically been grazed about 1 in 5 seasons. At present it is the opinion of Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) range conservationists that the reservation is at risk for wildfire due to high fuel component of accumulated non-grazed forage (BIA 2007). A primary reason why the reservation has not been grazed is the lack of water facilities to keep livestock out of riparian areas and away from lake shorelines. The Tribe recognizes these riparian habitats are fragile ecosystems, important for wildlife, fish habitat, and cultural practices. In 2005 the Tribe organized a Natural Resource Department funded by Federal grants and contracts provided by the BIA, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The BIA provides limited funding for basic fisheries and range management services through 638 contracts pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. The EPA provides funding to establish a tribal environmental program to address water quality, solid waste management and non-point source pollution. At present, funds support employment of four full-time employees, including a Director of the Natural Resource Department (NRD), an Environmental Coordinator, a Resource Technician, and a Maintenance Worker. The BIA has provided technical assistance to manage rangelands of the reservation. About five years ago, through a 638 Range Improvement contract, the BIA started providing technical assistance to investigate and treat noxious weeds. This limited effort was largely concentrated along roadways to prevent the spread of Russian knapweed (Acroptilon repens) onto rangelands. In the 2007 field season, while assessing conditions of Mahogany Creek, the wide spread occurrence of noxious weeds in meadowlands and riparian areas was discovered. When further assessments were made the following noxious weeds were found to be prevalent along shorelines of Summit Lake, meadowlands near Mahogany and Snow Creeks and One Mile Spring: Hoary cress (Cardaria draba), Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), and Scotch thistle (Onopordum acanthium). These noxious weeds left unattended have the potential to displace all native vegetation, thereby rendering the habitat inhospitable for many wildlife species and unpalatable for livestock. It is noteworthy that a small colony of perennial pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium), a noxious weed that has displaced native riparian vegetation along most major rivers in Nevada, was recently discovered and treated near the roadway north of Summit Lake. Additionally, these plants are listed on the Nevada Noxious Weed List. Nevada Noxious Weed designation identifies plant species harmful to agriculture and the environment, and provides incentives for landowners to treat noxious weeds with State and Federal assistance. There appears to be many opportunities and resources for noxious weed treatment and training, unfortunately, the recent discovery of widespread 3 noxious weeds in meadowland and riparian habitats on the Summit Lake Paiute Reservation came too late to apply for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) assistance in 2008 (see NRCS letter of support in Additional Materials section). As of this writing, the Tribe has approached the NRCS, University of Nevada (UNR) Cooperative Extension and the Nevada Department of Agriculture to learn about services and funding opportunities to treat noxious weeds. Additionally, the Tribe recently submitted a proposal to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) seeking assistance to treat noxious weeds pursuant to a Tribal Wildlife Grant Program (TWG). Awards for TWG grants will be determined after Congress passes the Federal budget for 2008. Recently the Tribe entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, and Veterinary Services to facilitate exchange of information should an outbreak of a foreign animal disease or other significant animal health emergency occur on the Reservation. An aggressive effort is needed to treat noxious weeds on meadowlands and riparian areas of the Reservation to prevent displacement of endemic flora. If this proposal is funded, the Tribe would have resources to immediately treat 800 acres of meadowlands and riparian area in 2008, and have capabilities and staff to outreach and network with noxious weed experts and working groups to secure long-term assistance from other sources in 2009 and beyond. Funds will be used to pay costs associated with organizing treatment of riparian noxious weeds, enrolling employees in workshops and training to attain certification as herbicide applicators, hiring one seasonal tribal employee to serve as a certified herbicide applicator and team leader, hiring three additional seasonal tribal employees to serve as herbicide applicators supervised by the team leader; and acquiring technical assistance from weed experts to prescribe appropriate management to validate treatment and monitoring of noxious weeds on the Reservation. Additionally, funds will be used to cover costs of a tribal employee (Resource Technician) to initiate a GIS based noxious weed program to track effectiveness of treatment. Noxious Weed Infestation, Delineation, and Treatment Methods Treatment of noxious weeds prior to 2007 has been haphazard and limited to corridors along primary roadways through the reservation. In 2007, a proliferation of noxious weeds was discovered in all meadowlands and riparian habitats delineated by a vegetation inventory conducted by BIA in 2006 (BIA 2007). Noxious weeds found in meadowland and riparian habitats, in order of greatest occurrence, are: Hoary cress, Canada thistle, Scotch thistle, Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea), and water hemlock (Cicuta maculata). Table 1 presents noxious weeds found in meadowlands, riparian habitat, and lake shorelines. Based on GIS delineation presented in a vegetation inventory of the Reservation (BIA 2007) and an estimate of lake shoreline derived from total lake surface (700 acres) multiplied by a factor of 5%, the total estimated acreage of habitat invaded by noxious weeds is 813 acres (i.e., 778 acres of dry meadowlands + 35 acres of lake shoreline). However, due to patchy infestation, it is believed noxious weeds inhabit no more than 50 4 percent of dry meadowlands and lake shorelines (i.e., 407 acres). Figure 1, abstracted from the 2006 vegetation inventory (BIA 2007), presents ecological sites by fenced range unit. Dry meadowlands are depicted in aqua-green color and are codified as R023XY013NV. Fenced range units enclosing a corridor surrounding Mahogany Creek are the grazing exclosures described above and represent riparian acres presented in Table 1. Due to size and patchiness of infestation, all noxious weeds listed in Table 1 are considered new invaders and with immediate treatment there is a better chance for control. Treatment of noxious weeds will typically be done by spot spraying herbicides in accordance to recommended prescriptions and compliance with NEPA. Because Mahogany and Snow Creeks and Summit Lake are occupied by the federally threatened LCT, treatment of riparian habitat along occupied or potential habitat will require consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. Table 1. Presence of noxious weed species (denoted by X) found in meadowlands, riparian habitat within grazing exclosures and lake shorelines. Meadowlands comprise 622 acres, riparian habitat within grazing exclosures comprises 156 acres, and lake shorelines comprise 35 acres. Acreage of meadowlands and fenced riparian habitat was determined by BIA (2006). Acreage of lake shorelines was estimated by multiplying a factor of 5% to total surface area of the lake (700 acres). The estimate of acres infested was derived from observations in 2007 of percent occurrence per habitat type. Noxious weeds Meadowlands Riparian Lake shorelines Estimate of acres 622 acres 156 acres 35 acres infested Hoary cress X X X 407 Canada thistle X X X 407 Scotch thistle X X X 407 Reed canary X 20 grass Water hemlock X <5 The treatment of water hemlock will be decided after consultation with BIA, the USFWS, and other experts. Although this plant is native, it is extremely toxic to livestock and humans. Water hemlock grows in wetland and riparian habitats with saturated soils and is very noticeable on streambanks of Mahogany and Snow Creeks. Literature suggests that water hemlock can be effectively controlled by grubbing and spot herbicide treatment (Graham and Johnson 2004). Treatment of all noxious weeds is most effective prior to seed production. Therefore, treatment will be planned to coincide with vulnerable stages of plant development of the targeted species. 5 Figure 1. Ecological sites by fenced range unit, abstracted from BIA (2006). Noxious weeds are prevalent in dry meadowland ecological sites depicted in aqua-green color and codified as R023XY013NV), within fenced areas surrounding Mahogany Creek corridor, and along Summit Lake shorelines. 6 A strategic plan will be developed to efficiently treat noxious weeds by using GPS and GIS technology to map noxious weed occurrence before and after treatment. Using this technology will help identify where to place the greatest treatment effort, validate effectiveness of controlling noxious weeds in the future, and document occurrence of new weed species. Tribal staff will be trained to identify noxious weeds and safely apply herbicides in compliance to regulations. Protocol and records management on herbicide application learned during training and required by BIA will be followed. All sites treated for noxious weed will be geo-referenced, mapped, and described in a report. Effectiveness of weed treatment will be determined by revisiting treatment location within one week of treatment and prior to one month for future treatments. Monitoring plots will be established to determine if noxious weed density and production is effectively reduced by treatment. Existing and Potential Cooperators The Tribe is an active participating member of the Humboldt County Noxious Weed Task Force Group. Federal cooperators may include BIA, USFWS, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, USDA Veterinary Services, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Bureau of Reclamation, and EPA. State cooperators may include Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), Nevada Department of Agriculture, Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, and University of Nevada (UNR) Cooperative Extension. Non-profit organizations may include volunteers of the Great Basin Bird Observatory, the Nature Conservancy, staff of the Nevada Outdoor School (NOS) – a subsidiary of Ameri-Corps, and Tribal members. Many of these partners are supportive of assisting the Tribe (see letters of support in Additional Materials section) and other potential partners have yet to be discovered. Budget and Cost Share Amounts A budget to treat noxious weeds on meadowlands and riparian areas associated with Mahogany and Snow Creeks, One Mile Spring, and shorelines of Summit Lake is presented in Table 2. Direct project costs amounts to $41,775. Personnel salaries include mandatory liability, workers compensation, and unemployment insurance for work conducted by the Natural Resource Director (NRD), a Tribal Resource Technician/Biologist (Resource Technician), one seasonal certified herbicide applicator who will serve as a crew leader, and three seasonal herbicide applicators. The NRD and Resource Technician will network with cooperators, organize logistics to train and conduct noxious weed treatment, and develop proposals to continue a tribal noxious weed program. The Resource Technician will be the primary lead for this project with the NRD providing administrative support and guidance. Herbicide costs were estimated by applying a 50% infestation factor observed in 2007 to total acreage of meadowlands, riparian habitats and lake shorelines (see Table 1) and by using cost information from 7 NRCS (see letter of support in Additional Materials section). Field equipment and supplies includes the purchase of 5 sets of backpack sprayer units and protective personal equipment (goggles, face shields, gloves, clothing, etc.); 2 safety chemical wash tanks; 2 first aid kits; 4 herbicide/water tanks to be mounted in the bed of two pick-up trucks; 1 ATV; 2 ATV sprayer tank assemblies; and miscellaneous supplies. The Travel line item will pay for costs associated with attending training or workshops. Vehicle Equipment/Maintenance will pay for reimbursable costs to use GSA leased or Tribal owned vehicles, and general maintenance of Tribal owned equipment. Fuel will pay the cost to operate vehicles, sprayers and other equipment as needed. The Seminars/Conference (Training) line item will pay for noxious weed training and herbicide applicator certification costs. The NRD, Resource Technician, and one certified herbicide applicator will attend training to be certified herbicide applicators and ATV operators. Table 2. A budget to treat noxious weeds in meadowlands and riparian areas associated with Mahogany and Snow Creeks, One Mile Spring, and Summit Lake shorelines. Personnel salaries include mandatory liability, workers compensation, and unemployment insurance. Line Item Description Unit cost Quantity Project Cost Personnel Salaries Natural Resource Director $45/hr. 72 hours $3,240 Resource Technician $25.29/hr. 160 hours $4,047 Certified Herbicide Applicator $19.21/hr. 180 hours $3,458 Herbicide Applicators (3 seasonal $16.65/hr. 480 hours $7,990 employees) Total Salaries $18,735 Field Equipment and Supplies Herbicides $25/acre 400 acres $10,000 Backpack sprayer units $200 each 5 $1,000 Personal Protective Equipment $150/set 5 $750 Tanks for herbicide/water $150 each 4 $600 Safety chemical wash tanks $70 each 2 $140 First aid kits $75 each 2 $150 ATV $5,500 1 $5,500 each ATV mounted sprayer tank assemblies $250 each 2 $500 Miscellaneous supplies $150 $150 Total Field Equipment and Supplies $18,790 Travel $500 Vehicle/Equipment Maintenance $1,000 Fuel $2,000 Seminars/Conferences (Training) $750 Total Direct Cost $41,775 8 A breakdown of estimated shared costs to implement a noxious weed program for the Tribe is presented in Table 3. Estimated cost share amounts to $47,147 and includes: 1) Tribal Accountant costs to track and issue payment for expenditures and wages; 2) audit costs calculated at 5% of direct costs for the proposal; 3) cost share for Tribal Environmental Department staff to coordinate tribal environmental compliance, assist with the NEPA process and notification to tribal members about noxious weed management and activities conducted with this program; 4) cost share for Tribal Natural Resource Department staff and other agency staff to comply with NEPA and prepare documents necessary for coordination and compliance with the Endangered Species Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and other regulatory legislation and agencies; 5) cost share from technical assistance provided by cooperators or partners for this project; and 6) rental and use of Tribal equipment and facilities including an ATV, a truck, office space, temporary lodging quarters for seasonal employees, cooperators, and volunteers, computers, printers, software, GPS, and GIS. The total project cost is estimated at $87,430 which includes cost share and direct project costs. The cost share percent of the total estimated cost for this project is 52%. Table 3. A breakdown of estimated cost share to implement a proposed noxious weed program for the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe in 2008. Description Cost Accountant services (208 hours @ $21.78/hr.) $4,530 Audit – cost share @ 5% of direct cost for project $2,089 Tribal Environmental Coordination and outreach of project (Environmental $6,190 Coordinator time of 200 hrs. @ $29.45/hr.=$5890) + (newsletter announcements and communication=$300) NEPA compliance (Tribal NRD 80 hrs.+ Resource Technician 160 $16,846 hrs.=$7,646)+(USFWS 160 hrs.=$7,200)+(other regulators=$2,000) Technical Assistance from Cooperators, includes staff time, use of $12,000 equipment and resources (BIA= $4,000)+(NV Dept of Agriculture & UNR Cooperative Extension=$3,000)+(USDA & NRCS=$3,000)+(Humboldt County Noxious Weed Task Force=$1,500)+(Other agencies, organizations, volunteers=$500) Rental and use of Tribal Equipment and Facilities $4,000 (ATV=$600)+(truck=$800)+(office space=$1000)+(temporary lodging=$1000)+(use of computers, printers, GPS, GIS and other software=$600) Total Estimated Cost Share $45,655 Proposed Schedule Initial treatment of noxious weeds is planned to be completed in less than one year, assuming funds are successfully awarded for this proposal by March, 2008. Coordination will begin immediately to treat noxious weeds on a total of 800 acres during the growing period, typically in June. A timeline to complete this project is presented in Table 4. 9 Table 4. Timeline to treat noxious weeds on the Summit Lake Paiute Reservation. March – May 08’ June - July 08’ August – December 08’ Initiate NEPA analysis Complete NEPA compliance Continue gathering data as needed to manage Identify partners to develop Treat noxious weeds on 800 noxious weeds an approach to treat noxious acres of infested land weeds on the reservation Identify funding Identify funding opportunities and draft Send tribal staff to training opportunities and draft proposals to learn identification of proposals noxious weeds and become Draft accomplishment certified as herbicide Gather data to map and report with applicators assess effectiveness of recommendations for noxious weed treatment future noxious weed Perform reconnaissance and treatments map noxious weed occurrence prior to treatment and develop a strategy for efficient treatment. Procure herbicide, equipment and supplies to perform treatment Coordinate an on-site visit with weed experts to validate weed identification and management approach REFERENCES BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs). 2007. Summit Lake Paiute Reservation vegetation inventory – 2006. Unpublished manuscript. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Western Regional Office, Division of Land and Water, Phoenix, Arizona. 196 pp. Chaney, E., W. Elmore, W.S. Platts. 1990. Livestock grazing on Western riparian areas. Produced for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by Northwest Resource Information Center, Inc., Eagle, Idaho. 45 pp. Graham, J, and W.S. Johnson. 2004. Managing poison and Western water hemlocks. Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet 04-09, University of Nevada, Reno. 4 pp. 10 Available on the internet on November 21, 2007 at: http://www.unce.edu/publications/files/nr/2004/FS0409.pdf SLPT (Summit Lake Paiute Tribe). 2000. Summit Lake Paiute land use plan. Unpublished manuscript. Summit Lake Paiute Tribe, Winnemucca, Nevada. 49 pp. USFWS (United States Fish and Wildlife Service). 1994. Lahontan cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarki henshawi, recovery plan. Portland, OR. 147 pp. West, N.E. 1983. Western Intermountain Sagebrush Steppe. Pages 351 – 374. In N.E. West, editor. Ecosystems of the World 5. Temperate Deserts and Semi-Deserts. Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company. New York, New York. 522 pp. 11 ADDITIONAL MATERIALS Letters of support from the UNR Cooperative Extension, USFWS, BIA, BLM, NRCS, NDOW, Great Basin Bird Observatory, and the Nevada Outdoor School are provided in the following pages to demonstrate there is a partnership base to collaborate with to initiate a tribal noxious weed and wildlife management program designed to enhance and conserve the biodiversity of flora and fauna endemic to the Summit Lake Paiute Reservation and surrounding area. 12 November 27, 2007 Dear Bureau of Indian Affairs: University of Nevada Cooperative Extension is the branch of the University that reaches out to provide technical expertise and education to Nevadans on a wide range of topics. My role with Cooperative Extension is to conduct research and educational programming regarding the management of noxious, poisonous, and invasive weeds throughout Nevada. Non-native, invasive weeds are the source of significant environmental and economic damage. In agriculture alone, estimates of production losses and control costs of weeds in the U.S. are in the neighborhood of $12 billion, annually. In non-agricultural settings, weeds have been documented to negatively impact wildlife, recreational activities, water quality and quantity, soil erosion, and wildfire suppression efforts. Current estimates of invasive weed spread suggest that the total acreage infested with these weeds continues to increase at rates between 12-18% per year. Our success in reducing the spread and impact of invasive weeds in Nevada will require the collective efforts of land managers, agencies, and citizens throughout the state. I fully support the initiative of the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe to start and implement an invasive plant management program. In their efforts, I am willing to provide technical assistance and training regarding weeds and weed management. I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to this project and look forward to working with the Summit Lake Tribe in the future. Sincerely, Earl Creech, Ph.D. Assistant Professor and Extension Weed Specialist Churchill County 111 Sheckler Road Fallon, NV 89406-8951 (775) 423-5121 Fax - (775) 423-7594 http://www.unce.unr.edu/Central/index.htm A Partnership of Nevada Counties, University of Nevada and U.S.D.A.