Idaho BLM has its PR machine in overdrive hyping the monstrously expensive Owyhee Soda Fire rehab plan designed largely to benefit Owyhee public lands welfare ranchers.

SIXTY SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS! Yet Neil Kornze estimated a ten million cost only a few weeks ago.

WLD today sent Idaho BLM Director Murphy and the Owyhee and Vale BLM managers a request to withdraw the outrageously expensive Soda Fire plan that relies on the very same rehab measures that have failed so miserably in past rehab efforts, and that provides no certainty of adequate protection of seeded and recovering areas from livestock grazing re-imposition.

Text of the e-mail below. While seeding some natives, the Soda Fire Plan plan also relies on use of many non-native harmful species that choke out native plants and prevent recovery of sage (exotic weedy wheatgrasses, forage kochia and the like). It also relies on extensive use of herbicides that will kill remaining native plants and prevent the seeds sown in the very expensive new seedings from germinating. It carves up remaining unburned lands into new mini-pastures with new barbed wire “temporary” fencing, and sneaks in massive dead zone habitat fragmenting fuel breaks and destruction of the native juniper trees that managed to survive the fire.

The porkbarrel plan.

Withdrawal Request to BLM Managers


I can not distinguish the “temporary” fences in Idaho on the BLM mapping from the existing fences. It appears the same dull gray color and near-identical symbol to that used to depict existing fences has been used in mapping. See Attached. Have I missed something (I may have)?

WHY has Idaho BLM shown the proposed temp fences that carve up remaining habitats into new pasture-lets with nearly the same color and symbol as the mapping of existing fences- yet Oregon clearly distinguishes its proposed fences with a pink color so viewers can understand what is being portrayed? There are over 50 miles of “temporary” fence referenced in the DNA – harmful and new fencing so that unburned wildlife habitats and areas of watersheds in and adjacent to the fire receive intensive livestock use and the livestock eat the wildlife struggling to survive out of house and home.

Also, I can see no document or information with specific measurable or any other recovery criteria/thresholds that need to be met before grazing resumes. There appears to be no accountability to the public at all for the expenditure of these vast sums primarily to subsidize the livestock industry that is the root cause of the explosion of cheat and medusahead to begin with.

Note that Dir. Kornze initially said 10 million dollars for rehab. Now, the bloated plan is well over 50 million, and is likely to be 60 to 70 million – OR MORE – before all the foreseeable actions snuck into what is supposed to be a fire rehab plan take place. See

More than two million dollars are to be spent on herbicide alone – primarily the Plateau herbicide (Oust analogue) and Plateau which kills and injures surviving native plants and native seeds in the seed bank, as well as suppresses the germination of the tens of millions of dollars of seeds and seedlings BLM is to be planting.

Wildlands Defense is appalled that BLM has used the Soda Fire as an excuse to ramrod in – under a mere DNA – a host of highly controversial weed-based fuelbreaks that rely on forage kochia and scorched earth sprayed dead zones along many routes, just as was scoped in the ongoing BOSH proposed juniper eradication and fuel break EIS. BLM is also using the Soda fire Plan to impose even more destruction of native western juniper than has already occurred- and the habitat for many migratory birds, big game and other wildlife that depends on the trees for food and/or cover. All this under the cover of the DNA and false claims of “emergency”. How ridiculous. There is no “emergency” requiring destruction of the remaining pockets of native trees, or no emergency that requires building even more fences so cows can wallop the bits of unburned sage habitats that remain.

This plan is a big step backwards for sagebrush restoration. It further exposes the lack of commitment of the agency to fully address sage-grouse needs. It follows the same failed path as the Jarbidge Murphy and other fire rehabs, and also exposes the lack of effectiveness of the hyped RMP amendments that are supposed to “solve” the sage-grouse problem.

The Soda Plan strews large areas with harmful exotic plant species – that themselves are weeds – and which prevent recovery of sage systems – species like “Vavilov’” Siberian wheatgrass, and the weed forage kochia, and the rhizomatous aggressive native-choking Sodar wheatgrass.

It fails to rely on local native ecotypes – and instead uses over-sized cultivars of pseudo-natives that have been bred for their cow forage utility.

This is the same failed porkbarrel forage post-fire cattle welfare scheme that has aided in the destruction of sage habitats in the Jarbidge – a fact well known to BLM, and documented by ecologists in reports of the failures. BLM planted seed, including sagebrush, then sprayed the land, killed the expensive seeded sage, and turned the cows back out within a couple of years.

This is a plan developed for the benefit of the livestock industry, and not the wildlife, watersheds and public.

WildLands Defense requests that BLM withdraw this Soda ESR plan, and develop a document that truly acts to rehab and restore the sagebrush ecosystem and sage-grouse, migratory bird and other wildlife habitats.