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Use of LANDFIRE Data in Bighorn Sheep Viability Analysis: Payette NF Area

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In response to a Forest Plan appeal reversal by the Washington Office in 2005, the Payette National Forest (PNF) completed a report and an assessment designed to provide Forest Plan direction for maintaining habitat for viable populations of bighorn sheep on the PNF.

The Hell's Canyon Bighorn Sheep Restoration Committee manages the Hell's Canyon Initiative, which is a state, federal, and private partnership to restore Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the Hells Canyon area of Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. As part of that effort, habitat data and model documentation developed for the Hell's Canyon Initiative were used as a basis for identifying and mapping source habitat requirements for bighorn sheep.

The habitat map from the Hell's Canyon Initiative, however, did not cover the full extent of the PNF. The limiting factors were the vegetation components of that model. The vegetation components were then crosswalked from satellite imagery vegetation maps for southwest and central Idaho. This provided the spatial extent to complete a report titled, “Risk Analysis of Disease Transmission between Domestic Sheep and Bighorn Sheep on the Payette National Forest.” Once work began on the additional analysis to the Southwest Idaho Ecogroup Forest Plan for the SEIS (Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement), it was discovered that, once again, a larger spatial extent was required to conduct the analysis. LANDFIRE existing vegetation type and canopy cover maps provided the only continuous and consistent data covering lands of the assessment area.

Related: A good week for bighorn sheep in Idaho. 

PHOTO CREDIT: ©Ken Cole, Wildlife News