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June 19, 2008
In Reply Refer To:
6711, 9217 (230/400) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2008-142
Expires: 09/30/2009
To:                   Assistant Directors, State Directors
From:               Director
Subject:           2008 Wildfire Season and Sage-grouse Conservation
Program Area: Wildlife, Special Status Species, Wildland Fire
Purpose: The purpose of this Instruction Memorandum (IM) is to provide guidance to foster the protection of key sage-grouse habitat, especially within the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) designated management zones 3, 4, and 5 (attachment 1). Though this memo is focused on fire preparedness and suppression, it is recognized that further policy refinement is necessary in other areas of vegetation management. This includes invasive species management and burned area rehabilitation.
Policy/Action: Conservation and protection of sage-grouse habitat is important to the overall goals of the BLM. This IM provides conservation measures related to wildland fire management and key sage-grouse habitat. The management and conservation of sage-grouse habitat, as a priority, will be addressed in Land Use Plans (LUPs), Fire Management Plans (FMPs), initial attack and suppression resource allocation, and Wildland Fire Situation Analyses.  Although conservation and protection of sage-grouse habitat and sagebrush steppe is one of the agency’s most important activities it should never supplant firefighter and public safety as our top priority.
General priorities for habitat protection. TheBLM manages some of the very best remaining sage-grouse habitat, making it critical that we take steps to ensure it remains healthy and productive.  The following priorities are established to aid in conservation of this important habitat:
            Priority # 1 - Protection of key sage-grouse habitat as defined in the Interim Key Habitat for Sage-grouse and Sagebrush map dated June 16, 2008 and provided by each State Director to the Sage-grouse Working Team.
            Priority # 2 – Protection of habitat recovering from disturbance within or adjacent to the key habitat areas, described above, in which BLM has made investments i.e.; seeding, planting, etc.
Fire Suppression and Wildland Fire Management. The BLM maintains an initial attack program with an average success rate between 95% and 97% for unwanted fires. We can improve the level of effectiveness in sagebrush habitats through:
  • Use of Predictive Services to help prioritize firefighting resources to the extent possible
  • Increased firefighter awareness of the importance of sagebrush habitat
  • Use of resource advisors during initial and extended attack
  • Better express the need for firefighting resources for these habitats during large, multi-agency fire situations 
Each State Director will ensure the development of a “tool box” for use at the appropriate level, by local and regional Dispatch Centers that includes localized maps, resource advisor contact phone numbers, and best management practices (BMPs) for suppression applicable to the area. A list of potential BMPs is included in attachment 2. The development of this tool box is critical to ensure appropriate response to unwanted wildland fires. Additionally, it is important that the natural resources specialists, including wildlife biologists, work closely with the fire management staff within each State, District and Field Office in the management of conservation and protection areas.
Specific Actions:
  • State Directors will ensure that BLM decision-makers and fire personnel are providing in-briefings to Incident Commanders, Dispatch, and Engine Crews regarding the importance of protecting sage-grouse habitat and the specific actions expected to be taken during suppression and/or management of unwanted fires.
  • Local cooperators will receive a tool box for fire management as well as briefings to fully understand the expectations for fire management and suppression actions.
  • State Directors will ensure that resource advisors with knowledge of local wildlife habitat concerns are available and utilized by local crews and incoming Incident Management Teams (IMTs).
  • In the event of multiple fires within a region, State Directors will ensure that line managers and resource advisors are setting priorities for management actions within key habitat areas.
  • During critical fire weather, State Directors will ensure that prepositioning of equipment is taking place in key habitat areas.
Timeframe: This IM is effective immediately upon approval.
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.
Coordination: This IM has been coordinated between the Fire and Aviation and the Renewable Resources and Planning Directorates.
Contact: Questions may be directed to Timothy Murphy, 208-387-5446 or Lynda Boody, 202-208-4147, Fire and Aviation Directorate.
Signed by:                                                                  Authenticated by:
James L. Caswell                                                        Robert M. Williams
Director                                                                      Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
2 Attachments

Last updated: 10-21-2009