APNewsBreak: Firefighting plan aims to protect West habitat

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has released the initial plan for a new wildfire-fighting strategy to protect a wide swath of intermountain West sagebrush country that supports cattle ranching and is home to a struggling bird species.

The 27-page report released Tuesday calls for protecting areas most at risk by using veteran crews, rural fire departments and fire protection associations made up of ranchers who can respond quickly. The previous strategy didn't call for specific efforts to protect the habitat.

The plan heading into the 2015 wildfire season also calls for accelerating efforts to restore burned rangelands by developing a strategy for storing and distributing locally adapted seeds.

The intent is to protect greater sage grouse habitat while contending with fires that have been especially destructive in the Great Basin region of Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and California.