Fire Management Plan Protects Habitat for Numerous Endangered Species

Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge - 2005

A biological opinion recently completed for Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge's 2005-2008 Fire Management Plan turned up exactly what fire managers expected: the prescribed fire that is critical to maintaining semi-desert grasslands on the refuge could adversely affect federally listed species there.

The opinion, authored by the Service's endangered species staff in Arizona , recognizes fire's potential to adversely affect endangered masked bobwhite, cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, and Pima pineapple cactus. It recommends mitigation measures to minimize impacts to these endangered species. Fire managers plan to burn up to 14,000 acres annually on this refuge over the next four years. Fire is critical to maintain the semi-desert grasslands here that support the endangered masked bobwhite quail. The fire management plan includes protection measures for the owl and quail and an experimental design to study the effects of fire on exotic grasses on the cactus. Other species addressed in the biological opinion include Chiricauhua leopard frog and Gila topminnow.

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