Sally Jewell

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced new plans Thursday to elevate the needs of the sage grouse before forest fires roll across the West, WHICH IS JUST GREAT.

All too often we’ve seen firefighting hampered by the presence of endangered species or their habitat. Most notably in 2001 was the notorious 30-mile fire in Washington state, where four firefighters died in the blaze because of water drop delays.

Why was the water delayed? Because of endangered fish in the Chewuch River.

While Forest Service officials delayed the promised water delivery as they debated the environmental impact of using Chewuch River water, the fire gained new life. The first delivery of water arrived at 3:00 p.m., too late to quench the rejuvenated fire. By 5:25 p.m. firefighters Tom Craven, 30, Devin Weaver, 21, Jessica Johnson, 19, and Karen Fitzpatrick, 18, had all died after flames cornered and then engulfed them in a narrow canyon.

This wasn’t the first time forest firefighting was hampered because of endangered species, but it was the first time it cost lives.

It was also the Endangered Species Act that prompted enviroweenies to file lawsuits that resulted in the ban of slurry drops to fight fires.

Slurry kills critters, they reasoned.

Well guess what? SO DOES FIRE.

More than 260 firefighters were killed in the last century. One would think the government would be more interested in saving those lives in the future. One might be wrong.

Jewell’s goal is to “protect, restore and conserve vital sagebrush landscapes and productive rangelands” and “position wildland fire management resources for more effective rangeland fire response” to protect the grouse’s habitat.

Her new efforts include:

– Prioritization and allocation of resources to reflect that this is a critical natural resource and fire management priority for Department agencies and bureaus by emphasizing the need to protect, conserve, and restore the health of sagebrush-steppe ecosystem.

– Developing a comprehensive strategy for acquisition, storage, and distribution of seeds and other plant materials. Restoration and rehabilitation of the greater sage-grouse habitat areas requires a reliable supply of genetically appropriate and locally adapted seed, as well as seeding technology and equipment for successful and expanded effective restoration of the sagebrush-steppe ecosystem.

– Designing and creating tools and maps to make information on areas of concern, landscape conditions and fire more integrated and readily available.

On the bright side (we suspect), Colorado is not yet one of those “areas of concern.”

We have our own unique problems fighting wildfires here, so we would like to take this opportunity to assure the federal government, we don’t need their help protecting sagebrush for the grouse this summer. However, we would appreciate some extra manpower to protect human lives and property.