Governors to create working group to address land management and wildfire

Governor Gibbons pictured with Governor Butch Otter during today’s press conference in Boise, Idaho.

CARSON CITY, Nev.–Governor Jim Gibbons and Governors Butch Otter (Idaho), Jon Huntsman, Jr. (Utah), and Dave Freudenthal (Wyoming) today agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) within two weeks to officially create a bipartisan, multi-state working group that will review and apply proven methods of wildfire suppression, prevention, and rehabilitation through sound scientific practices.

“The objective of today’s meeting was to promote healthy land and landscapes through sound management practices that will break the cycle of catastrophic wildfires,” said Governor Jim Gibbons.

The governors will appoint experts in agriculture, range management, wildlife, and firefighting from each state to serve on the working group, which will explore effective ways to better utilize state and federal resources.

“Together, we can accomplish far more than we otherwise would alone, as one state,” Gibbons added. “It is my hope that we will find alternatives to previous rangeland management practices that will benefit all western states facing similar challenges.”

Additionally, the working group will address a number of challenges that many western states are facing this fire season, such as the limited supply of seed needed for land rehabilitation. With fire season just passing the half-way point, seed will be a critical component of a fire-ravaged state’s ability to not only return land back to previous conditions, but also to better prepare for future fire seasons.

After the working group assesses sound scientific methods of land rehabilitation, those findings will be applied to burned rangeland within each state through an intensive land management pilot program. The pilot program will explore various methods of fuel management, including the use of fire-resistant and cheat grass-deterrent plant species that will provide habitat and grazing for wildlife and livestock.

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