Sage Grouse Initiative stars in NW Emmy Award Nominated TV Documentary

May 6, 2015

The Sage Grouse Initiative may soon rise to “Emmy” fame. The dancing, strutting male sage grouse are natural stars of the sagebrush-steppe.  However, a recent Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)  TV show names another star: the rancher.  The film also highlights SGI as a win-win solution.

The Oregon Field Guide segment  called  “Ranchers Act to Protect Sage Grouse, Prevent Restrictions”  is one of 20 OPB programs nominated for the Northwest Regional Emmy Awards from the Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS). The station is also nominated for overall excellence. Winners will be announced June 6.

Here are a couple excerpts from the script that follows Jeremy Maestas, Natural Resources Conservation Service biologist, to a spring lek where sage grouse dance:

Jeremy Maestas can hear the odd pre-dawn sound effects before he can see what’s causing it. Finally, with just enough light creeping above the horizon, he spots the source.

“We’ve got some hens here which means the boys are extra excited,” whispers Jeremy Maestas. “Just like the human world, the reason the boys are here is because the girls are here.”

And this a bit later in the script:

Yet, both Sharp the rancher and Maestas, the biologist, see cattle and grouse as compatible.

Sharp says cow manure attracts insects which provides food for young grouse.

“What’s good for sage grouse is good for ranching,” says Maestsas. “And we mean that too.”

Maestas says both grouse and cattle need abundant, healthy bunch grasses. His agency, the NRCS, has established the Sage Grouse Initiative, an effort to promote sustainable ranching that allows sage grouse to co-exist in cattle country.


(PHOTO copyright, Rick McEwan)


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.