Latest: Feds plan sagebrush survey

The data could provide a blueprint for science-based decisions.

  • A male greater sage grouse.

    Alan Krakauer/cc Flickr

Greater sage grouse numbers have plummeted over the past decades as housing and energy development destroy the bird’s habitat. When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in 2011 that federal protection was warranted, collaborative conservation efforts kicked into high gear to avoid an Endangered Species Act listing. Last September, the feds announced that the bird would not be listed (“The Endangered Species Act’s biggest experiment,” HCN, 8/17/15).

In early November, federal officials released a plan to gather data about the 500,000-square-mile sagebrush habitat that sage grouse and 350 other species depend on. This blueprint for science-based decisions is a major step in Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s 2015 strategy to reduce the size and severity of rangeland fires, check the spread of invasives like cheatgrass and restore ecosystem health. “This is the biggest systemic effort to learn more about those ecosystems that we’ve ever seen,” John Freemuth, professor of public policy at Boise State University, told the Associated Press.

Nancie McCormish
Nancie McCormish Subscriber
Nov 22, 2016 06:00 PM
Jodi, would you please provide a link here to the referenced plan?
Paige Blankenbuehler
Paige Blankenbuehler Subscriber
Nov 23, 2016 11:39 AM
Hi Nancie,
Thanks for reading. Here is the link: http://integratedrangelandf[…]Actionable_Science_Plan.pdf
Paige Blankenbuehler
Assistant Editor
Nancie McCormish
Nancie McCormish Subscriber
Nov 23, 2016 04:40 PM
Thank you!
Mark Bailey
Mark Bailey Subscriber
Nov 24, 2016 02:16 PM
As a skier I have often marveled at how fast we can ski out a mountain after a fresh snowfall. At Alta, Utah, the powder hound's mecca, it takes about an hour. Here's an analogy. Domestic sheep and cows are to understory and grass what skiers are to untracked powder. They get it all, everywhere, all the time, right away. I expect the study will show that healthy habitat and private livestock on public lands cannot co-exist.