WILDFIRES

Wildfires Destroy Sage Grouse Habitat; May Take Years To Recover

Aug 13, 2018, 6:23 PM | Updated: 10:38 pm

GROUSE CREEK, Utah – Hundreds of thousands of acres of sage grouse habitat have already been destroyed in Utah wildfires. Officials said rehabilitating those areas will take years.

From the Goose Creek Fire alone, nearly 140,000 acres of sage grouse habitat in Box Elder County have already been destroyed, according to the Bureau of Land Management, and around Utah the damage has been widespread.

Ben Nadolski with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

“We get wildfires every year, so sage grouse are used to it, but this year’s been worse than normal, and we expect to see more,” said Ben Nadolski, Sage Grouse Policy Coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Services.

Nadolski said it was too soon to know how much habitat has been destroyed statewide. While rehabilitation efforts will soon begin, it will still take about two years to restore any of those areas.

“Catastrophic wildfire is the number one threat to greater sage grouse throughout the western United States,” said Nadolski.

Luckily, Nadokski said the state of Utah puts forth more efforts to rehabilitate sage grouse habitats than any other state.

“We put more tools on the ground than any other state in the U.S.” Nadolski said. “We’re used to having wildfires, and we have a lot of tools at our discretion here.”

According to the BLM, many of the sage grouse population affected by the Goose Creek Fire will likely move on to other areas in Utah, as well as across the border in Nevada and Idaho.

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Wildfires Destroy Sage Grouse Habitat; May Take Years To Recover