Federal officials have approved a project that aims to help the iconic sage grouse in southwest Idaho. The threat? An encroaching evergreen that has infiltrated much of the region's sage brush steppe.
Western juniper trees create a handy perch for raptors and other predators to hunt the ground-dwelling sage grouse. Along with wildfire, overgrazing and cheatgrass, it’s one of the most significant threats to the prehistoric bird in Idaho.
Now, a project to remove junipers from more than half a million acres of federal land in the region has received approval from the Interior Department. Named the Bruneau-Owyhee Sage-Grouse Habitat Project, the goal is to remove new-growth junipers on more than half a million federal acres. According to a press release, the project will take place over the next 10 to 15 years.
But juniper removal is not easy work, and it isn’t cheap. A spokesperson with the Bureau of Land Management office in Idaho was not able to provide an overall estimate for the project, which will be paid for with federal dollars. She says budget requests for the project will be made on a yearly basis and they hope to begin the project in the fall.
Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
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