Feds Release Plan to Protect Western Sagebrush Country
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Federal officials on Monday released an ambitious wildfire-fighting and restoration plan to protect a wide swath of sagebrush country in the intermountain West that supports cattle ranching and is home to an imperiled bird.
The 139-page plan is essentially a how-to guide that follows Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's five-page order in early 2015 calling for a "science-based" approach to safeguard greater sage grouse while contending with fires that have been especially destructive in the Great Basin.
The Interior Department plan also identifies gaps in knowledge as scientists try to find the best approach to restore and protect about 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.