|Abstract or Summary
- Effective conservation of the greater sage-grouse and its habitat requires a collaborative, landscape-scale, science-based approach that includes strong federal plans, a strong commitment to conservation on state and private lands, and a proactive strategy to reduce the risk of rangeland fires.
Since public lands make up roughly half of the remaining sage-grouse habitat, management decisions by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) are critical. The BLM and USFS land use plans will conserve key sagebrush habitat, address identified threats to the greater sage-grouse and promote sustainable economic development in the West. The plans were a key factor in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) determination that the charismatic rangeland bird does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The plans will not only benefit the greater sage-grouse, but will also preserve the West’s heritage of ranching and outdoor recreation; protect hundreds of wildlife species such as elk, mule deer and golden eagles that also rely on sagebrush habitat; and promote balance between conservation and development.
A healthy economy and a healthy ecosystem are inextricably linked. The sagebrush habitat supports a vibrant ranching economy, as well as over $1 billion in economic activity from outdoor recreation. The plans conserve the most important sage-grouse habitat while still providing access to key resources. For example, the vast majority of areas with high potential for oil, gas and renewable energy development are outside of sage-grouse habitat. Strong federal plans are one part of the equation. States, ranchers, sportsmen, energy developers and other partners are also implementing smart, effective conservation measures that will help ensure the health of iconic sagebrush landscapes for years to come. More than 1,100 ranchers and partners across the West are working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Sage Grouse Initiative to restore more than 4.4 million acres of habitat while maintaining working landscapes. Additionally, the FWS and the BLM have also have commitments on 5.5 million acres in Candidate Conservation agreements on private and federal lands.