Sustainable Development and The Great Sage-Grouse

Sustainable Development and The Great Sage-Grouse

Douglas D. Rideout Yu Wei Joe-Riley Epps David Mueller Niki Kernohan 

WESTFIRE Research Centre, Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, Colorado State University, U.S.A.

Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, U.S.A.

31 March 2017
| Citation



The invasion of non-native grasses, pinyon-juniper encroachment, drought and climate change have resulted in larger, more intense fires in the western United States’ sagebrush-steppe ecosystem. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identified these factors as the primary threat to sagebrush obligate species, particularly the endemic greater sage-grouse. A large portion of primary sage-grouse conservation areas reside on the U.S. Department of the Interior federal lands. In 2015, the DOI issued Secretarial Order 3336 that directed the development of a comprehensive science-based strategy to reduce the threat of large-scale rangeland fires to greater sage-grouse habitat and the sage-steppe ecosystem. This study reports the results of using the STARFire planning and budgeting system to respond to Sec- tion 7(b) iii-Fuels, Action Item #4 of the secretarial order. This study demonstrates the capabilities of STARFire to apply the latest science and technology using a risk-based approach to conduct a wildfire risk analysis and improve the targeting of fuels reduction programs on a landscape-scale study across the Northern Great Basin of the United States.


economics, fuel treatment, Great Basin, Landscape analysis, risk, sage-grouse, spatial planning, STARFire, U.S. Bureau of Land Management. wildland fire.


[1] USFWS. Why Care About America’s Sagebrush? US Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, Colorado. February 2014, available at mountain-prairie/factsheets/Sage-steppe_022814.pdf. (accessed 15 December 2016).

[2] Welch, B.L., Big sagebrush: a sea fragmented into lakes, ponds, and puddles. Vol. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-144: U. S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 2005.

[3] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) Conservation Objectives: Final Report. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, CO. February 2013.

[4] Finch, D., Boyce, D., Chambers, J., Colt, C., McCarthy, C., Kitchen, S., Richardson, B., Rowland, M., Rumble, Schwartz, M. Tomosy, M. Wisdom. 2015. USDA Forest Service Sage-Grouse Conservation Science Strategy 2015-2020. USDA Forest Service. Washington, DC.

[5] DOI. Greater Sage-Grouse Wildfire, Invasive Annual Grasses & Conifer Expansion Assessment (Fire and Invasive Assessment Tool (FIAT)). Central Oregon. June 2015. Prepared by Fire and Invasive Assessment Team (Appendix 5), P. 43, 2015.

[6] BLM. An Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy, Final Report to the Secretary of the Interior, p. 82, May 2015.

[7] Rideout, D., Wei, Y., Kirsch, A. & Kernohan N. (In Press). STARFire: Strategic budgeting and planning for wildland fire management. Park Science, 32(3).

[8] Rideout, D., Wei, Y., Kirsch, A. & Botti, S. Toward a unified economic theory of fire program analysis with strategies for empirical modelling. In The Economics of Forest Disturbances: Wildfires, Storms and Invasive Species, eds T.P. Holmes, J.P. Prestemon & K.L. Abt, Springer: New York, pp. 361–380, 2008.

[9] Rideout, D.B. & Kernohan N. The relative value of fire planning alternatives. In Modelling, Monitoring and Management of Forest Fires III, eds C.A Brebbia & G. Perona, WIT Press: Boston, MA, pp. 151–162, 2012.

[10] FLAMMAP. 2016, available at, (accessed January, 2015).

[11] LANDFIRE. 2016, available at (accessed December, 2015).

[12] Chambers, et al., Using resistance and resilience concepts to reduce impacts of invasive annual grasses and altered fire regimes on the sagebrush ecosystem and greater sagegrouse: A strategic multi-scale approach. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-326. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 73, 2014.

[13] Rideout, D.B., Ziesler, P.S., Kling, R., Loomis, J.B. & Botti, S.J., Estimating rates of substitution for protecting values at risk for initial attack planning and budgeting. Forest Policy and Economics, 10, pp. 205–219, 2008.