Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sage Grouse Tightly Linked to Sagebrush

This is a great little vid about the greater sage-grouse and its dependence on sagebrush ecosystems.

A federal listing of the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act will have significant ecological, economical, social and cultural impacts across the West.

The issue: 

  • Rangeland fires in recent years are HUGE, hundreds of thousands of acres.
  • These fires have destroyed critical sagebrush landscape.
  • This landscape provides critical habitat for the greater sage-grouse and other sagebrush dependent species. 
  • Invasive annual grasses such as Cheat Grass fill in behind the destroyed sagebrush.
  • Critical habitat is lost, greater sage-grouse numbers are decreasing - no place to nest.
  • Remaining rangeland is at higher risk for more fast-moving fire due to Cheat Grass.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is now considering whether protection of the sage grouse is warranted under the Endangered Species Act.  

The stakeholders surrounding this issue are many and diverse: ranchers and land owners, federal, state and local land managers, local businesses, tribes, communities and more. Targeted actions to reduce the likelihood and severity of fire, to stem the spread of invasive species, and to restore the health and resilience of the landscape are necessary to preserve, protect, and restore greater sage-grouse habitat in the sagebrush steppe ecosystem, and address important public safety, economic, cultural, and social concerns. 

If ever there was an opportunity for the Cohesive Strategy to show its value, it's now.  With so much at stake, the opportunity for collaboration using sound science is here.  Working together, across jurisdictions, landscapes and boundaries, stakeholders can protect this ecosystem, restore the landscape, and protect the communities and economies that depend on it.  Stay tuned....

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