In regard to the recent Rocky Barker article on the Soda Fire rehabilitation, the statement that the “wrong species of sagebrush” was planted was erroneous. In fact, three native species/subspecies of sagebrush were planted. They were selected by experienced wildlife biologists and botanists based on the adaptability to the site, relative benefit to sage grouse, and availability of seed and seedlings.
The story claimed that the area should be left alone with no drill seeding. The drill-seeded areas were determined to be highly erosive and/or susceptible to cheatgrass invasion. Stemming the invasion of cheatgrass is a daunting task and some areas need to be drill seeded or they will convert to cheatgrass resulting in more frequent and catastrophic fires.
While I respect Roger Rosentreter as a botanist, his views come from the narrow perspective of a staff specialist who was not a manager and could sit back and criticize without the enormous responsibility of making these hard decisions in a timely manner. The team members representing several agencies should be commended for their hard work and dedication in implementing the best rehabilitation measures possible under the constraints of time and seed availability.
Jim Johansen, retired Idaho BLM, Meridian