Conserving the Nature of America
Owyhee Watershed Council to Start Restoration of Private Lands Following Soda Fire with Assistance from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Seed Money to Kickoff Urgently Needed Collaborative Effort

September 10, 2015


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External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS

BOISE, Idaho – In the wake of the 280,000-acre Soda Fire, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has entered into a formal partnership with the Owyhee Watershed Council (OWC) to provide opportunities for rangeland and habitat restoration on private lands in Owyhee County, Idaho. 

“The Owyhee Watershed Council promotes fostering of partnerships that will lead to restored rangelands and successful greater sage-grouse habitat,” said Nicole Sullivan, project manager with OWC.

Through this partnership the OWC will have nearly $130,000 to start restoration projects on some private lands within the burned area.  The Service’s Idaho Fish and Wildlife Office (IFWO) in Boise and the Pacific Regional Office in Portland both contributed funds to help willing private landowners restore their lands in Owyhee County.  

Within the burn area, approximately 30,000 acres are private lands in immediate need of restoration, primarily through herbicide applications and rangeland seeding to prohibit further invasion by annual grasses.  To address the effects of the burn up front across the landscape, the Service is working with many partners, including the Bureau of Land Management, state of Idaho, and Natural Resource Conservation Service, among others.  Much of the burned area is within greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) habitat.

The Service is making the funding available to the OWC to quickly start the restoration process this fall.  Specifically, the money will be used to fund the suppression of invasive grass species, chiefly cheatgrass and medusahead, and for the seeding of native rangeland species.  These are the first steps to re-establish sustainable forage for livestock grazing and habitat for wildlife including the greater sage-grouse.

“We hope this seed money will not only get the ball rolling on restoration, but will also bring other conservation partners to the table to assist with the restoration of Owyhee County’s rangelands.  These lands are vital to both the people and wildlife of southwestern Idaho,” said Mike Carrier, state supervisor for the IFWO.

The Service’s seed money is merely a start.  The restoration of the affected lands is a significant challenge for residents of Owyhee County, many of whom are reliant on the land for their livelihood.  Local, state and federal resource managers have been meeting with partners to plan for a successful restoration across land ownerships.  Additional funding is necessary for the restoration project to succeed, but establishing relationships and building long-term partnerships between private landowners and public land managers in this area will ultimately determine the success of these efforts.

Organizations or individuals interested in contributing financial support or willing to volunteer their expertise to aid the restoration effort should contact Nicole Sullivan of OWC at (541) 372-5782 or Brandon Miller of the IFWO at (208) 685-6951.

Idaho Fish And Wildlife Office

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