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The Sage Grouse Initiative's conifer removal efforts focus on habitats where encroachment is relatively mild. This protects sagebrush cores from additional encroachment while reducing potential impacts to pinyon jay habitat.
Photo to right: These pinyon and juniper trees are encroaching in Bi-State sage grouse habitat. Their removal is part of a Sage Grouse Initiative project east of Minden, Nevada. (Photo courtesy NRCS.)
More than 165 stakeholders converged in Minden, Nevada, in February for a high-profile forum aimed at solving a key conservation issue for Bi-State sage grouse: the expansion of pinyon and juniper forests into historic sagebrush-steppe. One of the largest habitat threats to these sage grouse is the encroachment of pinyon and juniper trees, which suck precious water out of the soil, can prevent them from landing on the ground, and squeeze out critical sagebrush-steppe habitat for the birds.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to announce its final decision in April on whether the Bi-State population of sage grouse will be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Bi-State population–a geographically distinct population that lives along the border of Nevada and California–was proposed for listing as threatened in 2013. Click here to learn more about the Fish and Wildlife Service response to the Bi-State issue.
The Sage Grouse Initiative is working on multiple proactive conservation projects with partners and landowners to restore habitat and improve the Bi-State population. Read our Science to Solutions piece on how conifer removal restores sage grouse habitat.
The Pinyon-Juniper Forum in Minden is described in the excerpt below from this article written by Heather Emmons on the USDA blog. Read the full story on the forum results here.
Stakeholders gather for the SGI pinyon-juniper conference in Nevada in Feb 2014.
“This forum plays a key role for the partners moving forward to carry out the historic commitment by NRCS, Forest Service and BLM,” Weller said. “I’m encouraged by such a great attendance and shared interest in strategically tackling this issue and formulating the best approaches possible. I’m confident as a team, we can all accomplish our conservation goals of restoring the sagebrush and securing the future of the bi-state sage-grouse.”
After a day and a half of productive workshops, the group headed to the field to see completed treatments in the area that are assuring sage-grouse have a home and the rangelands are as healthy as possible. With an army of stakeholders and partners engaged and dedicated to the effort, the future looks bright for the bi-state sage-grouse and the wildlife that share their range.
Click here to see more SGI stories on the Bi-State population of sage grouse.