Department of Defense Dedicates $2 Million to Protect Sage Grouse in Nevada

August 19, 2015

(Photo left: Smith Creek Ranch is one of many private ranches located within the REPI Challenge project area.)

Win-win for the sagebrush sea and military readiness

The Department of Defense announced more than $2 million in funding from the Military Services’ Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program to protect prime greater sage-grouse habitat near Reno, Nevada.

This award will leverage an additional $2 million in partner funding to protect 11,306 acres (about 7 square miles) of the sagebrush ecosystem around the Fallon Range Training Complex’s 13,000 square miles of naval training airspace. Partners include the Nevada Department of Wildlife, Naval Air Station Fallon, the Nevada Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, the Nevada Conservation Districts Program, the Bureau of Land Management, and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The project area in the Fallon Range Training Complex in Nevada includes large areas of prime sagebrush habitat

The project area in the Fallon Range Training Complex in Nevada includes prime sagebrush habitat

Several interested landowners within the Complex’s Military Influence Area are willing to participate in easements, projects, and research in the core and priority areas of the greater sage-grouse habitat. The project partners hope to replicate the success of the Bi-State sage grouse efforts.

With the REPI funding, the project partners will work with landowners and land management agencies to remove threats and enhance sagebrush habitat. Potential projects in the  include conifer removal, wetland restoration, fencing improvement, sustainable grazing techniques, and conservation easement protection.

This project in Nevada is part of the REPI program‘s unique cost-sharing partnerships with state and local governments and private conservation organizations to preserve compatible land uses around military installations and to conserve natural landscapes in support of military readiness. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will make its decision next month on whether to list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

If a species is listed with habitat contained in military operating areas, it can introduce significant new encroachment restrictions for military installations. This sage lands conservation project will prevent the future encroachment of the Fallon Range Training Complex by:

  • proactively reducing habitat loss and fragmentation via purchase of conservation easements
  • restoring prime habitat areas
  • conducting research and monitoring to guide future conservation efforts

 

Read the Associated Press story

Learn more about the REPI program

Read the Dept. of Defense press release

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.