Andrus Center to Host Sage-Grouse Summit Nov. 17-19 

click to enlarge The greater sage-grouse of southwestern Idaho lost nearly 200,000 acres of habitat in this summer's Soda Fire. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • WIkimedia Commons
  • The greater sage-grouse of southwestern Idaho lost nearly 200,000 acres of habitat in this summer's Soda Fire.

The U.S. Forest Service reports more than 1,300 fires ignited in Idaho this year—burning more than 790,000 acres of public and private land. 

Land mangers are taking a close look at another devastating effect of growing wildfire seasons: the destruction of the greater sage-grouse habitat. For example, this summer's 280,000-acre Soda Fire in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon burned 189,873 acres of sage-grouse habitat. 

In an effort to curb habitat loss in the future, the Andrus Center for Public Policy will host a regional summit Tuesday, Nov. 17-Thursday, Nov. 19 on the impact of invasive plants on greater sage-grouse habitats.

In a news release, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies states the goal of the upcoming 2015 Western Invasive Weed Summit is to "develop a plan for consistent and appropriate implementation of existing mandates, to identify gaps in law and policy, and to develop recommendations for securing adequate and consistent program funding at local, state and federal levels."

The list of summit attendees is  expected to include several representatives from the Department of the Interior including Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, Janice M. Schneider, who will give the keynote speech.

The conference will also attract national, state and local representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Services, the Department of Agriculture, state wildlife agencies, local weed management organizations, cattlemen and non-governmental organizations, as well as conservationists, scholars and ranchers from nine states around the west.

"The need for this Invasive Weed Summit is never more urgent, given the wildfires this year in Idaho," said Virgil Moore, the director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and WAFWA greater sage-grouse lead. "The link between invasive species and wildfires in the Great Basin is undeniable," he said. "The management problems caused by invasive species in the other western states, while not specific to wildfires, are just as significant and need immediate and coordinated action."

Moore said he is hopeful the summit will be a "catalyst" to develop a plan to properly manage invasive weeds in the West. 

In other fire news, the Mountain Home Ranger District will continue burning piles of limbs, small trees and vegetative debris near Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area on Monday, Nov. 9 and Tuesday, Nov. 10. According to the Mountain Home Ranger District, the 250-acre project will accelerate large tree growth as well as improve resistance from insects, disease and wildfire. The smoke will most likely be visible from Boise.
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