Science to Soluntions: Conifer Removal Boosts Sage Grouse Success Public Deposited


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  • In recent years the Sage Grouse Initiative, led by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, has worked with many partners to accelerate the mechanical removal of invading conifer trees, primarily junipers, to restore sagebrush habitats in and around sage grouse strongholds across the West. Replicated studies from public and private land in southern Oregon and northwest Utah are the first to document sage grouse response to this type of landscape-level habitat restoration effort. Despite conventional wisdom that female sage grouse use the same nesting areas every year, space-starved hens in Oregon were quick to use restored habitats made available by conifer removal: within four years, 29% of the tracked sage grouse were nesting within and near restored habitats. In Utah, 86% of hens avoided conifer invaded habitats, and those using restored habitats were more likely to raise a brood. Taken together, studies show that landscape-level conifer removal can effectively increase habitat availability and boost success for nesting and brooding sage grouse.
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