Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Wednesday, November 02, 2016
Rangeland fire plan unveiled to protect vast swath of Western US sagebrush
Federal officials released an ambitious wildfire-fighting and restoration plan Oct. 31 to protect a wide swath of sagebrush country in much of the West that supports cattle ranching and is home to an imperiled bird.
The 139-page plan is a how-to guide that follows Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s five-page secretarial order in early 2015 calling for a “science-based” approach to safeguard the greater sage grouse bird while contending with fires that have been especially destructive in the Great Basin.
The Interior Department plan also identifies knowledge gaps as scientists try to find the best approach to restore and protect some 500,000 square miles of sagebrush steppe. Sage grouse numbers have plummeted in recent decades and the federal government has been working to protect key habitat to avoid an Endangered Species Act listing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will review the bird’s status within five years.
The plan is “a Moon shot for the sagebrush steppe ecosystem in terms of getting as much science done quickly enough to have an impact,” said John Freemuth, a public lands policy expert and Boise State University professor. “This is the biggest systemic effort to learn more about those ecosystems than we’ve ever seen.” Jewell’s 2015 order is generally considered by public lands experts, outdoor enthusiasts and scientists as one of the most significant federal land policy changes in some 80 years. The plan, called The Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy Actionable Science Plan, has what it calls 37 priority science needs to fill knowledge gaps.
Those are put in five groups that include fire, invasive plants, restoration, sagebrush and greater sage-grouse, and climate and weather.
The plan is being led jointly by the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Forest Service...more