Born out of a local sage-grouse working group meeting, Burley BLM Wildlife Biologist Jeremy Bisson and NRCS District Conservationist Elliot Traher put their heads together for ways they could cross land ownership boundaries and budgets to develop a truly landscape level approach for habitat restoration.
The Project manages encroaching Utah juniper which improves or maintains habitat at a landscape level for sage-grouse and other wildlife. The expansion of juniper is a natural process normally controlled by fire. However, fire suppression efforts over the years may have allowed expansion in areas not historically occupied by juniper.
To date, approximately 14,700 acres have been treated in the Jim Sage Mountain area south of Albion, and another 14,000 acres are scheduled for treatment in the next 3-5 years. According to Dustin Smith, Burley Field Office Fire Ecologist, “This project has enjoyed significant success in large part due to the innovative partnerships and sources of funding including the Healthy Lands Initiative. Our lean budgets and scarce resources have encouraged the formation of some great partnerships, allowing us to accomplish far more than we ever could have had we attempted this on our own.”