Getting Our Hands Dirty at the 6th Annual Sage Grouse Initiative Workshop Tour

A few of SGI's Strategic Watershed Action Team get their hands dirty to test the soil in eastern Montana.

July 6, 2016

Above: Members of SGI’s Strategic Watershed Action Team test the soil type near Roundup, Montana. 

Range managers, ecologists, and wildlife biologists gather in Montana to learn from landowners what works for the bird and the herd

All photos by Brianna Randall

The Sage Grouse Initiative is comprised of hundreds of partners and dozens of field staff, all of whom are scattered across the vast sagebrush range. When everyone gets together at our annual workshops, it’s a treat to swap stories, share our experiences, and learn about cutting-edge research on range management and wildlife biology.

Last week, we held our 6th Annual SGI Workshop and Tour in Lewistown, Montana. Below you’ll find a collage of photos from our tour, where we saw first-hand how SGI-enrolled ranchers are volunteering to conserve habitat for the greater sage-grouse.

Over 100 participants took a field tour near Lewistown, Montana to hear agricultural producers tell stories about how SGI worked on their land.

Over 100 participants walk across the sage-steppe on a field tour near Lewistown, Montana to hear agricultural producers tell stories about how SGI works on their land.

Nikki Rife with the NRCS explains how rest and rotation grazing patterns benefit the sagebrush-steppe and livestock, too.

Nikki Rife with the NRCS explains how rest and rotation grazing patterns benefit the sagebrush-steppe and livestock, too.

Stuart and Annie Shirley describe how they've seen the grass and forbs come back to flourish on their ranch after their SGI contract

Stuart and Annie Shirley describe how they’ve seen the grass and forbs come back on their ranch due to their SGI grazing contract.

Todd Cross explains research on genetic diversity within Montana sage grouse populations.

Todd Cross explains his research on genetic diversity within Montana sage grouse populations.

A member of Lake Mason Grazing Association, Gary Eliasson talked about the rewards of working with SGI to enhance their rangelands near Roundup, Montana.

A member of Lake Mason Grazing Association, Gary Eliasson talks about the rewards of working with SGI to enhance their rangelands near Roundup, Montana.

Sagebrush ecosystem specialist Jeremy Maestas reminds field staff how to look for indicators of healthy rangeland, like perennial grasses.

Sagebrush ecosystem specialist Jeremy Maestas reminds field staff how to look for indicators of healthy rangeland, like perennial grasses.

At SGI, we like to recognize the hard work of all our field staff and partners who help conserve the sagebrush sea, including the Roundup Field Office.

At SGI, we like to recognize the hard work of all our field staff and partners who help conserve the sagebrush sea, including the Roundup Field Office.

Mark Szczypinski of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks has done an outstanding job researching sage grouse chick survival. Stay tuned for more on his 10-year study.

Mark Szczypinski of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks has done an outstanding job researching sage grouse chick survival. Stay tuned for a story about his ongoing 10-year study.

Tim Griffiths and Dave Naugle are recognized for their long-time commitment to making SGI successful.

And, to much applause, Tim Griffiths and Dave Naugle are recognized for their long-time commitment to keeping SGI a shining example of cooperative conservation.

We love our Strategic Watershed Action Team! Thanks, field staff, for putting conservation projects on the ground that benefit wildlife and agricultural operations across the West!

We love our Strategic Watershed Action Team! Thanks, field staff, for putting conservation projects on the ground that benefit wildlife and agricultural operations across the West!

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.