Wildllife managers want to focus on protecting sage grouse habitat for the birds’ 11-state range including Oregon. Habitat destruction is the biggest threat to the bird and intense wildfires in the West are not making it easier.
The U.S. Interior Department told governors at a meeting last week in Colorado, the sage-grouse could end up on the endangered species list if more isn’t done to protect forests. Bend Fire Captain Karl Findling is a former worker for the Bureau of Land Management. He says firefighters are noticing changes to wildfires themselves, and in weather patterns.
Findling: "Our fires are burning hotter because of fuels. They're sometimes more inaccessible. Whether it's global warming or whatever we constitute as a changing climate, we get more volatile storms, we get heavier downpours. Systems are holding tons of dry lightning and higher wind."
Findling says invasive species and human expansion are also contributing to the birds’ decline. A study released in the spring shows re-seeding projects to restore habitat for the sage grouse haven’t been effective.
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