New Rangeland Fire Science Plan Essential for Sage-Grouse, Sagebrush Conservation and Restoration
The U.S. Department of the Interior released a new science plan that will serve as an action-oriented blueprint for acquiring information needed to make science-based decisions to restore and conserve the imperiled ‘sagebrush sea,’ a roughly 500,000-square-mile-area of sagebrush steppe habitat across western North America.
The science plan identifies 37 priority science needs that address knowledge gaps in five topic areas: fire, invasive plants, restoration, sagebrush and greater sage-grouse, and climate and weather. Led jointly by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Forest Service, the plan is a critical step forward in the implementation of Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell’s 2015 Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy. The goal of that Strategy is to reduce the size, severity and cost of rangeland fires; address the spread of cheatgrass and other invasive species that exacerbate the threat of fire; position fire-management resources for more effective rangeland fire response and effectively restore healthy rangeland landscapes.
“We know that addressing the threat of rangeland fire is critical to conserving sagebrush habitat and the many species, including the greater sage-grouse, that depend on it for survival. The science plan unveiled today helps us do just that,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “With so much at stake, both ecologically and economically, we are committed to the plan’s successful implementation and continued collaboration with states, scientists, resource managers, western communities, ranchers and farmers.”