There was an unbelievable mistake made when the Soda Fire in Owyhee County was first spotted. Minimizing the time it takes from when a fire is first observed to when fire crews and equipment are on the scene is the singular, most critical conservation action for saving sage grouse and the sagebrush steppe. Recently I learned that the Soda Fire was discovered by a rancher or ranch hand around 10 in the morning. The person tried to extinguish the fire unsuccessfully and then failed to contact any firefighting authorities. Around 1 that afternoon BLM fire dispatch finally heard of the fire and immediately sent crews out. Three critical hours of initial attack firefighting were wasted because someone didn’t report the fire immediately. Those three critical hours were in the morning when air temperatures and winds are at their lowest. Had the person notified fire authorities when he found the fire, it is very possible that the fire could have been contained that day. Please let this terrible habitat loss be a lesson learned: Without fast fire attack with a force of trained firefighters, the race to save the sagebrush steppe and sage grouse is lost.
Signe Sather-Blair, Boise