Warners

November 23, 2021

Restoring the Sagebrush Sea: The Warner Mountains Project


For eight years, the Warner Mountains in southeastern Oregon served as a laboratory for university scientists studying the effects of strategic, large-scale conifer removal on sage grouse. This page compiles the studies, interviews, videos, and other products produced from this first-of-its-kind, long-term research effort.


Background: The rugged and remote Warner Mountains run from northern California into southeastern Oregon. Like many regions in the West, the Warners are comprised of public and private lands, and grazing plays an important role in the economies of the small towns that dot the landscape. Unfortunately, decades of woody plant encroachment had degraded much of this landscape, pushing out sagebrush-dependent wildlife, reducing livestock forage, and depleting precious water supplies.

In 2011, the USDA-NRCS’s Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) partnered with the Bureau of Land

Map of study area in the Warner Mountains of Oregon. Credit: Andrew Olsen.

Management (BLM) and local landowners to begin a large-scale conifer removal project in the southeast Oregon portion of the Warner range. Additionally, the partners invited university scientists to study how sage grouse responded to the conifer removal treatments.

Over the next eight years, the partners strategically removed conifer trees on more than 100,000 acres of this landscape while leaving trees in place on an 82,000-acre “control” portion of the area.

Learn more about this project, the research it produced, and the stories of the people involved below.

 

 

 


Restoring the Sagebrush Sea details the successful outcomes of tree removal in the Warner Mountains for sage grouse and local ranchers. Click on the image above or here to learn how this work is informing other projects throughout the American West.


Peer-reviewed science

——

——

——

——

——

——

——

——

 


SGI Posts and Interviews


Farmers.gov blog post about rancher John O’Keeffe’s experience partnering on this project

  • Coming soon!

>>Read more posts and research about the effects conifers have on sagebrush range and the benefits of removing them here.<<


 

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.