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United States Department of the Interior
Montana State Office
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, Montana 59101-4669

 June 23, 2009

6711/9217 (MT9230) P
Instruction Memorandum No. MT-2009-049
Expires: 9/30/2010
To:             State Management Team
From:         State Director
Subject:     2009 Wildfire Season and Sage-grouse Conservation
Program Area: Wildlife, Special Status Species, Wildland Fire
Purpose: On May 29, 2009, the Washington Office (WO) Instruction Memorandum (IM) 2008-142, Change 1 (Attachment 1), addressing the 2009 Wildfire Season and Sage-grouse Conservation, became available online at: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/regulations/Instruction_Memos_and_Bulletins/national_instruction/2009/IM_2008-142_ch1.html
Although this document is basically a reissuance of a similar document from 2008, there are several points in the document that need to be clarified or emphasized.
Policy/Action: The IM addresses fire management activities in sage-grouse management zones 3, 4, and 5. These zones were highlighted because fire has been recognized as a major impact to sage-grouse populations in those areas. However, most of the Montana and the Dakotas Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-managed lands are in management zones 1 and 2. At the current time, there are several other impacts which have higher existing influences on the populations in our area; however, fire could be a major influence on sage-grouse, and this IM can help ensure we do not fall into the category where loss of habitat due to fire is the main reason for population declines.
The WO IM 2008-142, Change 1 talks about developing a “tool box” to ensure appropriate response to a fire in sage-grouse habitat. We want to make sure this has been developed for each dispatch center and updated with the latest information. 
This “tool box” should include resource advisor names and phone numbers and should also consider other individuals knowledgeable about sage-grouse habitat in your area.   The list could also include local Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park employees, Natural Resource Conservation Service range and wildlife managers, or private landowners.
Part of the yearly update of the “tool box” should include a briefing to all firefighters and cooperators on the identification of sage-grouse seasonal habitat, the latest local information or new findings, and information on how everyone can become more prepared before the fire starts.
Please review the list of best management practices (BMPs) and apply additional measures for local concerns.
Management direction should be communicated to our fire suppression and resource management cooperators. Key habitat maps and lists of the BMP’s could also be shared.
The maps addressed in the WO Instruction Bulletin (IB) 2008-091 (Attachment 2) are the same as the previous maps from the State Office, except they have been further refined to remove areas of current disturbance such as recent fires, powerlines, and agriculture lands. The “Key Habitat Map” as addressed in IB 2008-091 is a work in progress and is constantly being updated so that it can be shared with fire management officers (FMOs) and biologists.
Timeframe: This IM is effective immediately upon issuance.
Budget Impact: Minimal.
Background: Wildfires have been identified as one of the factors contributing to the loss of sage-grouse habitat. There are opportunities to reduce this loss by taking appropriate action prior to and during wildfire events.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: None.
Coordination: The IM has been coordinated between WO230, MT9230, and MT9250.
Contact: Questions may be directed to Randall Schardt at (406) 896-5141 for geographic information system (GIS) or mapping questions, and Gayle Sitter at (406) 896-5024 or Ken Schmid at (406) 896-2919 for questions on sage-grouse or fire issues.
Signed by:                                                                               Authenticated by:
Gene R. Terland                                                                      Melissa R. Dykes
State Director                                                                          Staff Assistant (MT9230)
2 Attachments
    1-IM 2008-142, Change 1 (4 pp in its entirety)
    2-IB 2008-091 (2 pp)

Last updated: 02-28-2013