Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden present the Secretary’s Honor Award to the Pioneers Alliance group leader Michael S. Stevens at the U.S. Department of Agriculture 66th Annual Honor Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.
The Pioneers Alliance, a unique group of ranchers, community members, conservationists, elected officials and agency employees, is making a difference for sage grouse in south central Idaho. Based in Carey, Idaho, the alliance leads a local effort to protect working ranches and core sage grouse habitat near Sun Valley. So far, more than 65,400 acres are protected through private landowner conservation easements supported by Farm Bill programs.
Last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack acknowledged the alliance’s work with the Secretary’s Honor Award for External Partnerships. This prestigious national award recognizes groups who have made outstanding contributions that support USDA’s mission and goals. 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 »
Meet seven at-risk species that benefit from habitat restoration and enhancement through NRCS’ Working Lands for Wildlife partnership. Infographic by Jocelyn Benjamin. Click to enlarge.
Today is National Endangered Species Day, and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is spotlighting how farmers, ranchers and forest landowners make voluntary improvements to their land, helping save habitats for at-risk species.
Owners and managers of working lands coordinate with NRCS through the agency’s Working Lands for Wildlife partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create and enhance wildlife habitat for many different species, including those facing population troubles. This work helps reverse population declines of seven wildlife species targeted in the partnership as well as provides benefits to other wildlife.
Learn more about the seven species in Working Lands for Wildlife: Read more »
Western juniper trees expanding into and displacing sagebrush and bitterbrush habitat. (USFS photo)
The annual ritual dance by the chicken-sized male Greater sage grouse attracts potential mates and perpetuates the species. However, this important mating ritual is a rare experience in the Devil’s Garden, a region in northeastern California where the greater sage grouse populations are in serious decline. 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 »
Male sage-grouse gather in Central Montana and perform competitive displays to attract females.
“What’s good for the birds is good for the cows,” says Duane Coombs, ranch manager for Smith Creek Ranch in central Nevada. That’s why Coombs and his neighbor on the other side of the Desatoya Mountain Range are working to restore habitat for the western sage-grouse, a chicken-sized bird that is being considered for endangered species listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Sage-grouse are a keystone species for the sagebrush ecosystem. Read more »