Governor signs multistate, cooperative wildfire memorandum

Nevada Governor Jim GibbonsCARSON CITY, Nev.–Governor Jim Gibbons signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the governors of Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming to outline and formulate a cooperative plan to ensure the continued coordinated support efforts for wildland fire fuels management and rehabilitation efforts between all four states.

“Due to exceptionally dry conditions and a lack of available forage, Nevada lost nearly one million acres this past fire season. If we fail to adequately rehabilitate this land, cheat grass and other invasive species will replace native plants, creating an even greater risk for future fires,” said Governor Jim Gibbons. “The threat of future catastrophic wildfires caused by cheat grass and drought is not limited to the State of Nevada. In fact, many western states face similar challenges during and after fire season, which is why the partnership between Nevada, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming is critically important to our collective restoration and prevention efforts. I thank Governors Otter, Huntsman, and Freudenthal for their cooperation and efforts to address these important issues.”

Each year, western states lose millions of acres of native vegetation to catastrophic wildfires. Much of this land previously provided vital habitat for wildlife, grazing for livestock, watershed protection, and recreational values. For many states, rehabilitation will be limited by invasive species such as cheat grass, red brome, and other annual grasses and exotic vegetation. The presence of these plants can slow recovery efforts if not halt them entirely.

“More than 2 million acres of private, county, state and federal land burned in Idaho during this year’s fire season. Thousands of people were temporarily forced out of their homes, and lives were put at risk. We owe it to the people we serve to act in concert with our neighboring states to reduce this annual threat and restore the lands on which our lifestyle and economy depend,” Governor Otter said. “I appreciate the efforts of Governors Gibbons, Huntsman and Freudenthal to work together in our common interest.”

Nevada, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming recognize that by working cooperatively, they can pool resources to counter the adverse affects of fire, invasive species, and other ecologically disruptive changes in vegetation conditions.

“We in the West must work together to wage a war on cheat grass,” Utah Governor Jon Huntsman said. “This agreement creates an opportunity for our states to work together to proactively manage wildland fire fuels and remediate fire conditions in our region, protecting our public and private lands, wildlife, grazing and watershed needs and air quality.”

“Wildland fires across the West continue to be a devastating problem,” said Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal. “While this MOU won’t affect how we fight wildfires, I hope it will help us quickly recover and restore lands that have burned, and work in concert to prevent the spread of invasive weeds.”


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