“CEAP” Insight: Targeted Conifer Removal: A Proactive Solution to Conserving Sage Grouse

October 15, 2014

(Removing junipers in the early stages of invasion into historic sagebrush-steppe is the most effective way to restore sage grouse habitat where conifer removal is a threat. Photo by Jeremy Roberts, Conservation Media)


The Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) recently announced the release of its newest Conservation Insight: “Targeted Conifer Removal: A Proactive Solution to Conserving Sage Grouse.”

CEAP is a multi-agency project that quantifies the environmental effects of conservation practices and programs that manage the agricultural landscape for environmental quality. The projects inform U.S. Department of Agriculture programs to improve them, and help conservationists, farmers and ranchers with their conservation decisions as well.

The latest CEAP insight aims to contribute to the science-based delivery of the Sage Grouse Initiative. The summary gives a clear explanation with photos and graphics that illustrate the problem and the solution.

The problem? Expansion of juniper and other conifers into sagebrush rangelands degrades habitat for sage grouse. In fact, a new assessment conducted in eastern Oregon in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the University of Idaho found no active sage grouse leks remaining where conifers covered more than four percent of the surrounding land area. Breeding activity diminished both where trees were well established, as well as in areas in the early stages of invasion, where many small conifers scattered across the sagebrush-steppe.

The solution? The research suggests the most effective approach for conifer treatment is to target early encroachment stands before the understory sagebrush community is lost and birds abandon breeding areas.

Please see our companion piece to the CEAP insight that is part of the Sage Grouse Initiative Science to Solution Series: Conifer Removal Restores Sage Grouse Habitat

  • All Science to Solution series are located on the Science & Policy page of the SGI website. The two CEAP insights (conifer removal and fence collision risk tool) are also housed as PDFs on this page.

CEAP Conservation Insights are available on the CEAP website:
CEAP science links relevant to the Sage Grouse Initiative:

If you have any questions, please contact Charlie Rewa, CEAP-Wildlife leader, at (301) 504-2326 or 








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.