A federal plan to rehabilitate 436 square miles of scorched rangeland in southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon containing important sage grouse habitat and grazing land for ranchers calls for spending about $67 million over 5 years, the AP reports. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management released the 71-page plan late last week that includes massive plantings of grasses, several types of flowering plants known as forbs, and shrubs, with more than $26 million being spent on seeds and seed planting.
The rehab effort after the giant Soda Fire follows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision last month that sage grouse don't need protection under the Endangered Species Act because of conservation efforts taking place in multiple states. "They're really under the gun to do this because it's pretty complex because of the different (land) ownership and the different types of soil," said John Freemuth, a Boise State University professor and public lands expert. "We all know that Fish and Wildlife is going to revisit the sage grouse issue in five years." AP reporter Keith Ridler has a full report here.