Sage Grouse Conservation Leaders Recognized in California & Nevada

September 1, 2015

The Sage Grouse Initiative works cooperatively to achieve wildlife conservation through sustainable ranching. We do this by putting “boots on the ground” in the form of dozens of range conservationists and wildlife biologists. These resource specialists — known collectively as the SGI Strategic Watershed Action Team (SWAT) — work with private landowners on conservation projects.

Our SWAT staff are located in critical core areas across the West where conservation work will most benefit sage grouse and their habitat. These staff are based in NRCS field offices, and employed by a wide range of SGI’s partners: conservation districts, state wildlife agencies, nonprofit organizations, or federal resource agencies.

This month, SGI and SWAT staff gathered together on the California-Nevada border to share notes, and learn from the unprecedented conservation efforts centered around the Bi-State distinct population of Greater sage-grouse. The success of proactive, voluntary projects to recover this species and its habitat prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to withdraw the proposal to list the Bi-State population as threatened under the Endangered Species Act this year.

Thad Heater (Nevada NRCS) and Tom Moore (California NRCS) are instrumental for partnership projects in the Bi-State.

The highlight of the SWAT team gathering was an award presentation by SGI lead staff Tim Griffiths and Dave Naugle. It was a pleasure for us to recognize the hard work, astute leadership, and cooperative ability of the people who have made all the difference for sage grouse in the Bi-State region.

Sherri Lisius accepted the award on behalf of the Bishop Field Office of the BLM. (Pictured left-right: Sherri Lisius, Tom Moore) Taylor Payne and Mandi Hirsch were recognized for their leadership with the SWAT staff.

The meeting in Minden, Nevada also featured presentations from several Bi-State partners, as well as field tours of projects that worked for both the bird and local ranchers. Tour stops included: the Sweetwater Ranch with SGI-enrolled ranchers; Bridgeport Cooperative Pinyon Juniper Project with SGI partner the Bishop Office of the California BLM, and Sinnamon Meadows in the Bodie Hills.

Wendell Gilgert of Point Blue Conservation Science poses with Dave Naugle and Tim Griffiths  after receiving his conservation award.

Here’s to a job well done by a group of dedicated conservationists willing to work across boundaries to protect a bird and its ecosystem. Three cheers for these proactive conservation leaders!

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.