WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today released the first of two reports developed by the Rangeland Fire Task Force. This initial report includes actions to be implemented by Interior’s bureaus to immediately address the threat of rangeland fire to Western sagebrush-steppe landscapes and improve fire management efforts before the start of the 2015 wildfire season.
“Cheatgrass and other invasive species have contributed to making rangeland fire one of the greatest threats in the Great Basin – not only to sagebrush habitat, but to wildlife, ranching, and other economic activities that depend on a healthy landscape,” Secretary Jewell said. “As we head into the 2015 fire season, the actions recommended in this report will help ensure that our preparedness, response and recovery strategies better align with the threats facing the West.”
Secretarial Order 3336, signed by Secretary Jewell on January 5, 2015, called for the development of a comprehensive, science-based strategy to reduce the size, severity and cost of rangeland fires; address the spread of cheatgrass and other invasive species; and position wildland fire management resources for more effective rangeland fire response. The Order called for the creation of an implementation plan, initial report, and final report. The Implementation Plan, completed on January 31, 2015, established a roadmap to accomplish the objectives of the Order. This initial report released today outlines actions and activities that the Department, in collaboration with partners and interested stakeholders, can take prior to the onset of the 2015 Western wildfire season. The goal is to protect, restore and conserve vital sagebrush landscapes and productive rangelands, particularly in the Great Basin region of Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and California.
Many of the recommendations in the initial report draw on the comments received and the ideas generated by the November 2014 conference, “The Next Steppe: Sage-grouse and Rangeland Fire in the Great Basin.” The increasing frequency and intensity of rangeland fire in Great Basin sagebrush ecosystems significantly damaged the landscapes relied on by many tribal and local communities, ranchers, livestock managers, sportsmen, and outdoor enthusiasts. The unnatural fire cycle puts at risk the landscapes that, for generations, Westerners have depended on to sustain their ways of life.
Read the full press release here: Secretary Jewell Issues Strategy to Protect, Restore Sagebrush Lands for 2015 Fire Season
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