Dept. of Interior top official tours Murphy fire area and says climate change a large factor

Assistant Secretary of the Interior C. Stephen Allred has visited the area of the huge Murphy rangefire this summer. Afterwards he talked with local politicos. He announced reseeding would be 80% native seed. Fortunately a considerable portion of the area is not invaded with cheatgrass yet and doesn’t need reseeding (or so I’ve been told).

My first impression is that 80% is pretty good given the lack of seed. My opinion (is supported in my mind) by the fact that powerful politicican-rancher state Rep. Burt Brackett, R-Rogerson wanted more foreign species planted.

I’ll take the native blue bunch wheatgrass, Idaho fescue, sagebrush and bitterbrush.

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Climate change! A rare nod to it from the Bush Administration.

Story: By Matt Christensen. Times-News writer






  1. Layton Avatar

    There was a comment in the story in the Statesmna that said a couple of indian tribes were joining in with sagebrush seedlings that had been “tree farm” raised.

    Where do they do that? Does anyone here know??


  2. mikarooni Avatar

    So. you think 80% native reseeding is a good deal. I’m afraid that I can’t share your excitement. Try imagining a reseed mix in which 80% of the total, by weight or volume or however you please, is “native blue bunch wheatgrass, Idaho fescue, sagebrush and bitterbrush;” but, the last 20% is straight cheatgrass. Now do you still like the idea? Allred has not yet earned much of my trust; I suggest you ask to see what he thinks that last 20% is going to be before you buy in. For that matter, check the sources for that material, then see if you are still enthused.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Allred hasn’t earned my trust.

    What I meant is 80% seems good to me given all the political pressure to plant non-native species from Idaho congressionals and powerful ranchers. The fact that politician-rancher Brackett is unhappey speaks well for what they are planning.

    The last 20% is not cheatgrass, but it means it is some foreign grass or modified native grass, probably various Russian wheatgrasses — crested wheatgrass, Siberian wheatgrass — or cultivars of native grasses. They have been planting these for years. They were and are “sold” as fire resistant and they are more resistant than cheatgrass, but they burn very hot when they do dry out.

    Now if we find out some of the 20% is some foreign shrub like forage kochia, then it is a very bad thing.

  4. be Avatar

    it will be interesting to see how it is distributed ~ the non-native siberian etc. is to be drilled from what i understand.

    another one of the questions that’s bounced back and forth in my mind is whether they inoculate the seed ~ whether they even have cultures endemic to the area or have even thought about it ~ perhaps that’s too progressive – too much to ask at this point ~

    establishing those relationships early on would help natives along though – especially if there’s less than optimal water or if cheat takes hold early…


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan