Wildfire Plan seen as Biggest Land Policy Change in Decades
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Public land experts, outdoor enthusiasts and scientists say Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's year-old wildfire strategy for a wide swath of sagebrush country in the West is turning out to be one of the most significant federal land policy changes in some 80 years.
The order she issued last January directed federal resources for the first time to fight massive blazes in open sagebrush steppe that supports cattle ranching, recreation and some 350 species of wildlife, including the imperiled sage grouse.
Firefighting officials say Jewell's order led more of the nation's firefighting resources to respond to blazes in Great Basin sagebrush steppe last year, when the U.S. experienced one of its worst wildfire seasons.
Ecologists say it's the biggest management change for sagebrush country since grazing regulations enacted in the 1930s.