|Abstract or Summary
- In the northeast part of sage grouse range, 70% of the best habitat is privately owned
– and the single greatest threat in this region is cultivation of native sagebrush grazing lands.
Scientists assessed lands in eastern Montana, the western Dakotas, and northeast Wyoming
to evaluate potential impacts to sage grouse if more land is converted from sagebrush to
crops. They found that 96% of active leks today are surrounded by less than 15% cropland,
and that a 50% increase in cultivation would decrease the region’s populations by 5%.
Scientists then found solutions by evaluating the roles of state and federal policies as well as
conservation easements to mitigate risk to sage grouse. Together, the Sodsaver policy in the
2014 Farm Bill, proposed policies on state lands, and a $146 million easement investment can
reduce by 87% the bird losses that would have occurred without these conservation measures
in place. Maps resulting from this science are now helping partners maximize their return on
investment by placing easements in landscapes where they help grouse the most.