BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Scientists say a $67 million rehabilitation effort following a wildfire in southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon is starting off well thanks to good precipitation over the winter.

About $7 million has been spent on seeds and $7 million on operating costs since October as part of a five-year plan to develop new strategies to combat increasingly destructive rangeland wildfires in the West. The new approach ordered by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell last year is credited with preventing many small rangeland wildfires from getting big.

But one blaze got away and scorched 436 square miles of sagebrush steppe that supports cattle grazing and some 350 species of wildlife, including sage grouse. Scientists have set up 2,000 monitoring plots to measure results of techniques that could become templates for future restoration efforts.

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