Webinar: Estimating The Economic Impact Of Sage Grouse Conservation On Ranches

When: Friday, September 29, 2017  |  10:00 AM MST

Host: University of Wyoming

Watch the On-Demand Replay here!

If you are unable to participate, a recorded replay of the webinar will be available afterwards.


  • Thad Heater, Sage Grouse Initiative Coordinator, USDA-NRCS
  • Dr. Dave Naugle, Sage Grouse Initiative Science Advisor & Professor, Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana
  • Dr. Kristie Maczko, Executive Director, Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable
  • Dr. John Tanaka, Associate Director, University of Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station


Description: This Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable and University of Wyoming webinar will explain a groundbreaking study currently underway that is designed to estimate the economic impact of implementing sage grouse conservation practices on small and large Western ranches.

The Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable research team, coordinated and administered through the University of Wyoming, will describe how they will be working with ranchers to develop ranch enterprise budgets that document conservation and management practices, resources available, and technology employed in ranching operations in selected Major Land Resource Areas (MLRA’s). The session will conclude with an opportunity for questions and discussion, as technology and time permit.

Background: In 2010, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) launched the Sage grouse Initiative (SGI) to voluntarily reduce threats facing sage grouse on private working lands in the West. SGI’s conservation with partners has focused on the shared vision of wildlife conservation through sustainable ranching, providing win-win solutions for producers, sage-grouse and 350 other obligate species. SGI uses a science-based, targeted outcome approach to implement conservation practices where they will provide the most benefit on the local landscape for both sage grouse and the sagebrush ecosystem.

With nearly 1,500 participating ranches in 11 western states to date, SGI and partners have conserved 5.6 million acres, an area larger than twice the size of Yellowstone National Park. This ongoing unprecedented conservation partnership was a major factor in the 2015 decision to not list greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

As part of a ranch economics initiative through the Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable, a team of researchers at the University of Wyoming’s Ecosystem Science and Management Department is leading a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funded project to assess the economic impact of sage grouse conservation practices on ranching operations. The project research over the next year will assess how private land conservation work both affects and benefits the participating ranchers and the communities in which they operate.

The research team is partnering with extension agents, ranchers’ associations, NRCS, and others across 9 Major Land Resource Areas (MLRAs) spanning 6 states that have the majority of greater sage-grouse habitat in the western United States. The team will develop ranch enterprise budgets and identify conditions where practices that are “good for the bird and good for the herd” are also economically viable.

In a series of focus groups, local ranchers will be involved in ensuring that the enterprise budgets are indeed representative of the “typical” ranching operations in each region, to include full-time, part-time, public, and private ranches.


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.