National Geographic Story: Can Sage-Grouse Be Saved Without Shutting Down the West?

national geographic - sage grouse story

May 26, 2015

Click here to read the full story in National Geographic.

Last week, National Geographic Magazine featured an in-depth story on sage grouse.  The author, Isablle Groc, takes readers on a journey to a lek in eastern Washington, and discusses the recent conservation efforts centered on these dwindling upland birds.  The Sage Grouse Initiative’s science advisor, Dave Naugle, is quoted in this excerpt:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has invested nearly $425 million in the Sage Grouse Initiative. The money has funded conservation easements covering 380,000 acres on some 1,100 ranches, along with other projects such as the removal of invasive conifers.

“The number of people that are thinking about sage-grouse today is just incredible compared to five years ago,” says Dave Naugle, a wildlife ecologist at the University of Montana in Missoula and the scientific advisor to the USDA initiative. The efforts on behalf of the sage-grouse, he adds, are helping preserve an ecosystem that supports 350 other species, including golden eagles, mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, and pygmy rabbits.

Will those efforts be enough? A few weeks ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that in one case they had been. The “Bi-State population,” a distinct segment of the sage-grouse population that straddles the California-Nevada border, doesn’t need protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Check out the full story here, and be sure to watch the accompanying video, which features researchers from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife releasing sage grouse relocated from Oregon state.

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.