Video Series on Conserving Water in Sage Country

May 31, 2017

Three-part video series shows ranchers & partners the resources available for conserving wet habitat in the American West

Story and photo above by Hannah Ryan of Intermountain West Joint Venture

Wet ‘mesic habitats’ rooted within arid sagebrush rangelands are vital to people, livestock, and wildlife. Envision riparian areas, wet meadows, springs and seeps, irrigated fields, or high-elevation areas that remain cooler and wetter long into the summer. These places provide essential green groceries for critters on the range as well as water. New tools are now available to help land managers and partners conserve these emerald islands in the sagebrush sea. A recent 3-part video series by the Sage Grouse Initiative provides details on how you can help.

In the first video, Jeremy Maestas, NRCS Sagebrush Ecosystem Specialist, presents SGI’s approach to conserving mesic habitats in sagebrush country. Maestas explains why SGI is working with landowners and partners to accelerate mesic area conservation and highlights six types of beneficial conservation actions that can be implemented to protect, restore, or enhance these rare wet areas.

In part two, Patrick Donnelly, IWJV’s Landscape Ecologist, explains the nuts-and-bolts of how SGI mapped mesic resources across the entire sage grouse range for the first time. The new SGI mesic mapping layer online draws upon over 30 years of satellite imagery to depict the extent of mesic areas and provide insights about how mesic productivity fluctuates through time.

In the third and final segment, Brady Allred, Rangeland Ecologist at the University of Montana, walks a viewer through SGI’s interactive web application and new layer for mesic resources. This free tool helps land managers visualize mesic resources in their watersheds and identify potential areas to implement appropriate conservation actions. The unique Google Earth Engine platform also allows users to run custom analyses for local project areas. Maestas wraps up the discussion with some tips on bringing these layers into your desktop ArcGIS software for map making and other conservation planning.

Watch these SGI videos below to learn more:

Check out SGI’s mesic conservation strategy

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.