Michael Brown shows the key places he and others at the NRCS work with ranchers and other partners to conserve and connect sage-grouse habitat. SGI photo by Deborah Richie.
When many different groups come together for a common goal, the impacts can be tremendous. That’s the case for the sage-grouse, an at-risk bird in the American West. Since 2010, over 1,100 ranches have teamed with the Sage-Grouse Initiative (SGI) and conserved 4.4 million acres across 11 western states, an area equivalent of 2 Yellowstone National Parks. The diverse partnership led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service includes ranchers, state and federal agencies, universities, non-profit groups and businesses that rally around a common vision of conserving wildlife through sustainable ranching.
SGI continues to grow and just over the weekend ConocoPhillips announced the company will invest $1 million to further strengthen the partnership. The contribution was made to the Intermountain West Joint Venture, one of the key partners of SGI. New funding will be used to extend the partnership through 2019 by providing $200,000 per year to support SGI’s Strategic Watershed Action Team, or SWAT. This team provides field delivery, science, communications and partner development support to SGI. Read more »
A sage grouse chick on the Big Creek Ranch - photo taken in the wet meadow area that's important for brood-rearing. (Alexis Collins, NRCS, photo)
The Natural Resources Conservation Service works with ranchers and partners to improve habitat for sage grouse with funding through the Sage Grouse Initiative. Focusing on privately-owned lands, the initiative covers the 11 western state range of the bird. About 40 percent of the sage grouse dwell on private lands. Steve Stuebner is a freelance writer for the Sage Grouse Initiative, a partnership that includes NRCS.—Alexis Collins, NRCS Idaho
By Steve Stuebner, for the Sage Grouse Initiative
From a hilltop in the upper Pahsimeroi Valley, Rosana Rieth points to a large pancake-like flat. That’s where about 80-100 sage grouse come to mate each spring in the shadow of the highest mountain peaks in Idaho’s Lost River Mountains.
It’s a perfect spot for a sage grouse lek – the land is flat, surrounded by sagebrush, remote and next to the Pahsimeroi River. Read more »
Dennis Sun on Sun Ranch, west of Casper, Wyo., with NRCS intern Meghan McPhaden. Photo credit: Haley Lockwood/NRCS
Dennis Sun, owner of the Sun Ranch west of Casper, Wyo. and publisher/owner of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, is making his ranch friendlier for a small bird that he can neither sell nor hunt. That’s because he wanted to help ensure that the sage grouse doesn’t get listed as an endangered species.
The sage grouse is a ground-dwelling bird native to the sagebrush ecosystem of the American West. Once numbering 16 million, it has dwindled to as few as 200,000 birds. About 40 percent of all sage grouse are found in Wyoming. Read more »
NRCS Earth Team volunteers and a Colorado state biologist enjoy lunch in the field during a bird count of the Gunnison sage-grouse in a remote section of high desert. From left, Robert Bright, Michelle Collins, Stephanie Steinhoff, Jenny Nehring and Elinor Laurie.
This spring, Earth Team volunteers with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) surveyed approximately 300 hundred acres of remote Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and private lands north of Villa Grove, Colo., looking for Gunnison sage-grouse, a ground-dwelling bird considered a keystone species in this habitat. Read more »