The areas of concern of the new Secretarial Order issued by the Department of the Interior are in the Great Basin Region of Idaho, Utah, Nevada and California. The plan outlines a new strategy to protect sagebrush lands and the species that inhabit them such as the sage grouse from rangeland fires. According to the US Department of Interior’s press release dated January 6, 2015; “Goals include reducing the size, severity and cost of rangeland fires, addressing the spread of cheatgrass and other invasive species, and positioning wildland fire management resources for more effective rangeland fire response.” Secretary Jewell stated; “The Secretarial Order further demonstrates our strong commitment to work with our federal, state, tribal and community partners to reduce the likelihood and severity of rangeland fire, stem the spread of invasive species, and restore the health and resilience of sagebrush ecosystems.”
The order establishes a Rangeland Task Force of 6 headed by the Deputy Secretary Mike Connor. This task force will work with other federal agencies, states, tribes, local entities and non-governmental groups on fire management and habitat restoration activities and improve coordination with all affected partners.
At the December 6, 2014, Western Governors’ Association winter meeting, Jewell directed her Department’s leadership to develop a comprehensive strategy to fight rangeland fire with an eye toward protecting rural communities, sagebrush landscapes and habitats essential to the conservation of the sage-grouse and other wildlife. Secretary Jewell also stated, “To protect these landscapes for economic activity and wildlife like the greater sage-grouse, we need a three-pronged approach that includes strong federal land management plans, strong state plans, and an effective plan to address the threat of rangeland fire.”
How are you planning to make your community safer in the event of a wildfire event? It takes many hands working collaboratively together to create an effective fire prevention plan as we all work toward a “Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire!”
The picture above of a rangeland fire is from the CAL FIRE website.