New Milestones for Sage Grouse Initiative from Partnership With Intermountain West Joint Venture

May 2, 2014

(Photo to right:, SGI Science on display: Entomologist Hayes Goosey from Montana State University and his crew are studying the connection between insect abundance and rested versus actively grazed pastures out in Montana near RoundUp–findings to date show a strong correlation between favorite chick insect/spider foods and rested pastures . Photo courtesy of Hayes Goosey).

 

Across 11 western states in sage grouse strongholds, 24 biologists and range conservationists funded to carry out the Sage Grouse Initiative are making a tangible difference. With their help working one-on-one with private landowners and in tandem with the Natural Resources Conservation Service staff, more than a million acres of rangeland improvements are benefiting sage grouse habitat.

The latest figures come from the just released new quarterly report (January through March, 2014)  tracking Sage Grouse Initiative successes through its special partnership with the Intermountain West Joint Venture, a bird habitat partnership group. The IWJV oversees field delivery, science, communications, and partner development under a program called the Strategic Watershed Action Team (SWAT). ( Note that these figures represent one facet of the Sage Grouse Initiative. SGI overall latest figures are in our two-page fact sheet, and on the home page infographic).

The report tallies up numbers and also features two stories to bring the data to life. A science  article showcases the work of entomologist Hayes Goosey, leading a unique, four-year study in Montana that’s providing invaluable information on a key part of the sage grouse life cycle- chick survival. SGI will provide key funding for the remaining two years of the study.   To demonstrate what “boots-on-the-ground” looks like, take a look at the cross-state boundary efforts of Gillian Brooks Bee in a Pheasants Forever SGI partner position out of Belle Fourche, South Dakota. She’s now able to follow the birds into Montana, working closely with the NRCS, landowners, and wildlife agencies in both states.

Partner Positions accelerate Conservation. Every $1 a partner invests puts $69 into habitat improvement. More than 30 partners contribute to our 24 partner positions that have helped to plan or put on the ground:

  • 1,065,762 acres of rangeland improvement to increase sage grouse hiding cover during nesting season. Additional grass cover is expected to increase sage grouse populations by eight to ten percent.
  • 177,208 acres of conifer removal in key nesting, brood-rearing, and wintering habitats to restore and maintain historic sagebrush-steppe that’s of high importance to sage grouse.
  • 121 miles of “high-risk” fence near leks marked or removed. Science shows marking fences reduces sag grouse collisions by 83 percent.

Read the full report here.

To see all the quarterly reports, please visit our science and policy page and scroll down.

 

 

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.