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New strategy for saving sagebrush habitats

Federal officials at the Bureau of Land Management and the Forestry Service announced that they had come up with a plan to save sagebrush habitats in Western states. The 248-page report balances the needs of cattle ranchers, recreation usage as well as 350 species of animals. The document also reputes to be a paradigm shift in reducing invasive species of plants and brush fires in the Sagebrush Steppe throughout the west, which includes Eastern California.

Categorizing sagebrush

The plan is to categorize sagebrush areas on the likelihood of being resistant to fires and invasive species or an area’s ability to recover. There is also a strategic triage for protecting and restoring sagebrush country as well.

The reason for concern is that sagebrush is getting overrun by invasive plant species such as cheatgrass, which can render land unusable or of little value. It relies on fire to spread its seeds and kills native plants.

Stepping up research-based response

According to the report, past failures in reseeding sagebrush are tied to using the wrong types of sagebrush plant seeds, which were not suitable for the climate of burned-out areas. Land managers are shifting their approach by:

  • Using geospatial data
  • Using more detailed maps of habitat
  • Evaluating the genetic information of potential seeds to determine their effectiveness

The report also has a plan for ensuring that there is enough of the right seeds for restoring areas.

Livestock usage also an issue

It is also worth noting that grazing areas that burn cannot be used for grazing again for several years. This leads to economic hardship for ranchers. The report also pointed out, however, that livestock grazing can help reduce invasive species and improve habitat in some cases.

Important for all of California

Many are already anxiously eyeing the weather forecast in light of the previous two years being records for fire-related damage. This led to Governor Gavin Newsom declaring a 12-month state of emergency. The governor also announced plans to clear some of its estimated 147 million trees killed by the drought that ended in 2017.

Ideally, the increased emphasis on prevention will reduce fire damage and subsequent insurance claims. One thing that will not change is the complexity involved in a claim’s approval. Whether policyholder or insurer, attorneys can help provide clarity so that the proper amount is paid on the claim.

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