Within sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystems, which are home to more than 350 species of plants and animals, potentially more frequent and severe fires are causing an increased threat to human safety, property, rural economies, and wildlife habitat. In particular, the habitat of the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), an iconic sagebrush-dependent species, is at risk. In response to this reality, on January 15, 2015, Secretary Sally Jewell signed Secretarial Order 3336 (S.O. 3336), titled “Rangeland Fire Prevention, Management, and Restoration.” The main purpose of the order is to implement enhanced policies and strategies for managing rangeland fire and restoring sagebrush landscapes impacted by fire across the West. S.O. 3336 established the Rangeland Fire Task Force, which, guided by the order, is designed to ensure that land managers and other interested parties have access to the best available science and tools to conserve sagebrush ecosystems, protect greater sage-grouse habitat, reduce the threat of wildfire, and restore degraded areas. To meet the science and tool needs, the task force directed the development of an actionable science plan. The Joint Fire Science Program not only participated in the development of this plan, but it also played a pivotal role in both the establishment of S.O. 3336 and subsequent strategic planning by the Rangeland Fire Task Force through previous and ongoing research it has funded relative to sagebrush ecosystems and fire.
Image Source: Joint Fire Science Program