California: National Public Lands Day Volunteers Apply Tangible Sage Grouse Conservation Actions in the Bodie Hills

October 6, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(All photos courtesy of Caara Fritz Hunter. To view her gallery of photos of the event. Go to the Bodie Hills Facebook Page link).

Contact: Jeff Hunter – 423.322.7866, 

News from our Sage Grouse Initiative partner: Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership

On Saturday September 27th, more than 25 volunteers braved the season’s first snowfall to participate in a 2014 National Public Lands Day stewardship project in the Bodie Hills. The Bodie Hills, which are located on the western edge of the southwest Great Basin in Mono County, California, are home to one of the core breeding populations for the Bi-State distinct population segment (DPS) of greater sage grouse.

This well attended volunteer project was the result of an exceptional collaborative effort by Bodie State Historic Park, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Bishop Field Office, the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership, the Bodie Foundation, and Friends of the Inyo.

The day started at 8375’ in a steady snowfall. After a tailgate safety talk, volunteers broke into two groups and fanned out to tackle two very different projects, both with tangible benefits to sage grouse in the Bodie Hills. Leadership from California State Parks supervised the removal of vegetation (hazardous fuels) from around historic buildings in Bodie State Historic Park.

With California in its third year of drought, this project helped safeguard historic structures in what is arguably the most intact ghost town in America, as well as reduced the likelihood of a human-caused fire spreading into the surrounding sagebrush steppe. That’s important habitat for the Bi-State that provides important habitat for the Bi-State sage grouse.

The remaining volunteers set out to remove a half-mile section of barbed wire fence that was fragmenting important sage-grouse breeding habitat. The fence, which marked the boundary between state park lands and public lands managed by the BLM, had been specifically identified for removal by the Bi-State Local Area Working Group to benefit sage grouse.

“I couldn’t be happier with the turnout and the results,” said Jeff Hunter of the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership. Hunter added, “We expected some cancellations due to the weather, but people not only turned out, they had fun, were enthusiastic and worked really hard together on this project.”

As mountain bluebirds vocalized and a female American kestrel feasted nearby on the morning’s prey, a team led by the BLM worked to complete the fence removal project. Steve Nelson, Field Manager for the BLM’s Bishop Office, expressed his appreciation for the successful volunteer effort.

“This project serves as an excellent example of the community-based conservation effort embodied by the Bi-State working group and the important role that volunteers can play in our efforts to conserve greater sage-grouse,” Nelson said. “It’s always a pleasure to work side-by-side with volunteers on the public lands we are entrusted to manage and I truly appreciate the work that was done here today,” said Nelson.

At the conclusion of the workday, volunteers and representatives from the conservation groups and land management agencies celebrated together with a relaxing barbecue lunch, followed by a free guided tour of Bodie and the Standard Mill.

The Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership is planning additional stewardship projects in the Bodie Hills for 2015. To get involved or to learn more about this Sage Grouse Initiative partner, please visit bodiehills.org.

PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT:

Volunteers brave snow and cold to tackle this important fence removal project to help sage grouse in the Bi-State. TEAM: Together Each Accomplishes More. (Photo: Caara Fritz Hunter_

Volunteers brave snow and cold to tackle this important fence removal project to help sage grouse in the Bi-State. TEAM: Together Each Accomplishes More. (Photo: Caara Fritz Hunter)

Some of the T-Posts were hard to remove, so the plan is to go back after a spring thaw to remove the stubborn ones--another volunteer opportuniiy with the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership. (Photo: Caara Fritz Hunter{

Some of the T-Posts were hard to remove, so the plan is to go back after a spring thaw to remove the stubborn ones–another volunteer opportuniiy with the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership. (Photo: Caara Fritz Hunter)

BLM Range Manager Jeff Starosta was all smiles on Saturday--removing fence and helping sage grouse. (photo: Caara Fritz Hunter_

BLM Range Manager Jeff Starosta was all smiles on Saturday–removing fence and helping sage grouse.
(photo: Caara Fritz Hunter)

Steve Nelson, Field Manager of Bureau of Land Management- California's Bishop Field Office, greeets and thanks the volunteers for working on their public lands. (Photo: Caara Fritz Hunter_

Steve Nelson, Field Manager of Bureau of Land Management- California’s Bishop Field Office, greeets and thanks the volunteers for working on their public lands. (Photo: Caara Fritz Hunter)

Volunteers remove brush from around historic buildings to protect them from fire. (Photo: Caara Fritz Hunter_

Volunteers remove brush from around historic buildings to protect them from fire. (Photo: Caara Fritz Hunter)

The coils of wire quickly added up --removing fence that had fragmented sage grouse habitat. (photo: Caara Fritz Hunter_

The coils of wire quickly added up –removing fence that had fragmented sage grouse habitat.
(photo: Caara Fritz Hunter)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sage Grouse Initiative is a partnership-based, science-driven effort that uses voluntary incentives to proactively conserve America’s western rangelands, wildlife, and rural way of life. This initiative is part of Working Lands For Wildlife, which is led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.