03 January 2017

Habitat Management Through Deadfall Removal at Government Canyon

Removal of deadfall trees on a portion of Government Canyon is underway. This effort, sponsored by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is being done to reduce "fuel-load" and for habitat management purposes.

Deadfall trees may be cut and removed during January, 2017 on a 3.125 acre portion of the 720-acre Government Canyon tract.

A completed authorization form, which includes a signature of the "harvester," has to be provided to the NGPC. Stipulations indicate that only non-commercial firewood users may remove dead, fallen trees from an indicated area at the southern portion of the area. Other than this form, there is no assurance that someone could not remove suitable fire wood and then subsequently sell it.

This is the first time that this sort of project has occurred at Government Canyon, according to a Game and Parks Commission official at the adjacent fish hatchery office.

Essential details were quite noticeably bereft in the local radio and newspaper reports. Neither the radio announcements or newspaper article indicated that the removal of only deadfall trees would be allowed, and only on a small portion of the area.
During a birding visit on December 31st, it was obvious that the removal of dead fall had already started. Just the larger portion of a tree trunk remained of a larger extent of a dead tree, along the west side of the access road – and also west of the designated removal area – was obvious due to the chips left from chain-saw cutting.

This seemed to be an obvious illegal action by some miscreant.
Another notable item that needs to be carefully considered for this endeavor regards giving away state property. All of the resources at Government Canyon are owned by the citizens of Nebraska. This includes trees, whether living or dead. It is not proper to give away state resources, no matter what the purpose. Even though allowing people to take away deadfall trees may be an important step in area management, this still apparently involves freely "giving away" resources owned by all Nebraskans.

This conundrum could be readily address by charging any participant a nominal fee – perhaps $10 – to apply and receive authorization to participate. Any funds could be used to minimally benefit efforts to manage Government Canyon. A ten-dollar fee for unlimited removal is certainly, dramatically less than what it costs to purchase small amounts of firewood at any local food market. A fee would also help cover administrative expenses.

Government Canyon is an important resource for nearby Valentine residents and others that enjoy birding, hiking and other outdoor activities at this unique wildland. Suitable and ongoing management in a manner that meets management goals while making certain that any sundries are properly considered will continue the value of this special place in Cherry county.