#FridaysOnTheFarm: Restoring Sagebrush Country With ‘Modern Wildfire’

Robin Laakso (right) and Oleg Katsitadze (left) are conservation-minded individuals at the Cornelia B. Ranch in Crook County, Oregon.June 8, 2018

Robin Laakso (right) and Oleg Katsitadze (left) are conservation-minded individuals at the Cornelia B. Ranch in Crook County, Oregon. 

New multimedia storymap features SGI-enrolled landowners who are removing juniper that’s invading Oregon’s rangeland

Through the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI), private landowners across Eastern Oregon are volunteering to perform proactive conservation treatments on their rangeland to promote healthy habitat for sage grouse and other wildlife.

One such landowner is Cornelia Laakso, owner of the Cornelia B. Ranch near the rural community of Paulina, Oregon. Cornelia’s daughter, Robin Laakso, has been assisting her parents with running the ranch for the past several years.

The ranch includes private land as well as adjacent sections owned by the Bureau of Land Management.

During the last eight years, Robin and her neighbors in the Paulina / 12 Mile focal area, located on the eastern side of Crook County in Central Oregon, have treated a combined 100,000 acres of core sage grouse habitat.

“In a way, we are doing the same work as a wildfire. Modern rangelands operate in a controlled environment, where we no longer have naturally-occurring, low-burning wildfires that would keep the juniper in check,” says Robin Laakso, Oregon landowner.

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.