Monday, March 09, 2009

Grazing: Good or bad for wildfires?

The Bureau of Land Management is launching studies to find out if livestock grazing can be a tool to reduce the threat of wildfires or if it may make them worse. Mike Pellant, coordinator of the Great Basin Restoration Initiative for BLM, said grazing and anti-grazing proponents made claims on both sides of the issue after the 2007 Murphy Complex fire, Idaho's second-largest wildfire on record. "Our own studies indicate grazing made a difference and can be a tool, but it needs to be used properly. We think targeted grazing by specific kinds of livestock might be an answer, but we need solid, scientific data," Pellant said. He said the BLM wants to develop internal guidelines for grazing to reduce fuels. Tom Dyer, Idaho director for BLM, put together a group to study the issue, Pellant said. "We're requesting funds for pilot projects, which would involve participation by permittees," he said. The agency is also continuing to monitor its own tools and methods of evaluating fires...Capital Press

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