Saturday, March 28, 2015

Model Program for Resilient Landscapes to Protect Sage-Grouse & Assure Ranchers

Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and USDA Deputy Undersecretary Ann Mills share the great news about CCAAs in Oregon.  Photo: Joe Stutler
If the greater sage-grouse is listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as a threatened or endangered species, the consequential regulations could severely limit activities (such as ranching and farming) on areas in the Great Basin States to protect the bird's habitat.  This is a big deal if you're a rancher in these states and your community's economy is connected to those efforts.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service will make their decision in September this year whether to list the bird under the ESA. 

These landscapes are at extreme risk of wildfire and continue to be threatened by invasive species such as juniper and cheat grass. This spells disaster for the sage-grouse and people who depend on these lands for their livelihood. 

In a model collaboration with county, state, federal, tribal and non-governmental partners, ranchers and private landowners are entering into Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs) to voluntarily agree to manage their lands to remove or reduce threats to species. These unprecedented agreements will allow people to continue to pursue their livelihoods while protecting millions of acres of sagebrush habitat, even if the sage-grouse gets listed. 

Collaborative efforts like the CCAAs will improve the resiliency of these landscapes, reduce the threats, protect habitat, protect communities, and support stable economies. See full story here.

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