Federal officials have launched a two-pronged plan to stop a vicious cycle of rangeland wildfires in a wide swath of sagebrush country in the West that supports cattle ranching, recreation and is home to an imperiled bird. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Friday says it will create an Environmental Impact Statement concerning fuel breaks and another on fuels reduction and restoration for Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, California, Utah, and Washington.
The agency says the documents when finished will help speed the approval process for future landscape-scale projects in the Great Basin. Giant rangeland wildfires in recent decades have destroyed vast areas of sagebrush steppe that support some 350 species of wildlife, including imperiled sage grouse. The agency is taking public comments through Feb. 20.