Each quarter, the Sage Grouse Initiative reports the latest accomplishments from our on-the-ground partner positions in the field, along with our science and communications efforts. The Intermountain West Joint Venture takes the lead in coordinating SGI’s Strategic Watershed Action Team, and leverages funds to ensure this is a lasting conservation partnership with tangible results.
Our Action Team is comprised of dozens of hard-working field staff who work with landowners to put in place proactive habitat conservation and restoration projects that benefit sage grouse–and hundreds of other sagebrush-dependent wildlife species–in 11 western states. The results of their combined efforts continue to create win-wins for wildlife and working lands. The latest achievements of SGI partner staff include:
>> 2,190,662 acres of rangeland improvement to increase sage grouse hiding cover during nesting season. Additional grass cover is expected to increase sage grouse populations by eight to ten percent.
>> 286,033 acres of conifer removal in key nesting, brood-rearing, and wintering habitats. Removing encroaching conifers from sagebrush rangelands eliminates tall structures to create more suitable habitat for birds to re-colonize their former range.
>> 193 miles of high-risk fence removed or marked near sage grouse mating leks. Marking fences is expected to reduce sage grouse fence collisions by 83%.
More highlights from SGI’s work over the last quarter include:
The Fish and Wildlife Service announced on September 22 that voluntary sage grouse partnerships have significantly reduced threats to the Greater sage-grouse, and the birds do not warrant protection under the ESA. This collaborative, science-based strategy is the largest land conservation effort in U.S. history!
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a renewed commitment to conservation efforts to bring back sage grouse populations in a new report titled the Sage Grouse Initiative 2.0 Investment Strategy, FY 2015-2018.
The SGI SWAT met in Minden, Nevada, this year for their annual conservation workshop. The focus of the meeting was implementing multi-stakeholder collaboration on a large-landscape level.
The team welcomed University of Montana Research Associate, Jason Tack to the team. His work will focus primarily on learning about the role that mesic (wetland) resources play in wildlife populations across the West.
New research released as part of SGI’s Science to Solutions series shows that restoring sagebrush ecosystems benefits songbirds and other wildlife, in addition to agricultural landowners and sage grouse.