(April-July 2020)
(April-July 2020)
Sage Grouse Conservation Partnership
April-July News and Updates (Sent August 3, 2020)
The SageCon Partnership provides a forum for coordination across stakeholders in Oregon interested in rangeland health, sage-grouse, and rural communities in sagebrush country. The partnership formed in 2012 and developed the 2015 Oregon Sage-Grouse Action Plan. SageCon staff at the National Policy Consensus Center and Institute for Natural Resources continue to coordinate efforts through the SageCon Coordinating Council, Staff Implementation Team and topic-focused work groups. Some updates of interest include:
Save the Dates: December 8-9th for the 5th Annual SageCon Summit 
NOTE: The Summit will likely be held virtually this year, please reach out to Jennah Stillman (jennah@pdx.edu) if you would like to be a speaker or have content recommendations

Federal Updates
Welcome from SageCon Partners to Barry Bushue, who has been named Oregon/Washington BLM State Director (Press Release)
The BLM has published a draft supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for management of Greater Sage-Grouse habitat on public lands in Oregon.  The draft SEIS addresses issues identified in an October 16, 2019 order issued by the U.S. District Court for Idaho that placed a preliminary injunction suspending implementation of sage-grouse plans the BLM adopted in March 2019. Public comments are under review for the Final Environmental Impact Statement between the Oregon State Office and BLM Headquarters and expected to be available in August. As a reminder, the 2019 BLM Resource Management Plan revision was narrowly focused in Oregon on continuing to allow grazing in Resource Natural Areas (RNA’s) and clarifications to BLM’s mitigation approach (retaining the net conservation gain standard and ensuring consistency with the state’s mitigation program). BLM is currently operating under the 2015 plan amendment due to the preliminary injunction. (Press Release)
NRCS is in the process of updating its 5-year Sage Grouse Initiative Strategy for sage-grouse program implementation in Central and SE Oregon, including review and revision of priority maps for invasive annual grasses, wet meadows, conifers and habitat conditions. Identification of funding and personnel needs are being assessed to align with an updated strategy to be submitted by the end of August. 
Volunteers learn how to install wet meadow restoration structures during a hands-on training day sponsored by the Sage Grouse Initiative.jpg
(Picture Credit: Partners in the Sage)

NRCS Sage-Grouse Initiative hosted a July 22 webinar on Wet-Meadow mesic habitat and low-impact restoration techniques, featuring a presentation from Jeremy Maestas.
State Updates
2020 Legislative Session/Covid-19 Impacts
Oregon State Agencies are facing potential budget cuts and reductions in response to COVID-19 that could impact resources and capacity to address threats facing sagebrush communities. To reflect the need to maintain steady funding levels for sage-grouse conservation efforts at a localized and landscape level from rangeland fire response to invasives annual grass treatments, various SageCon partners added their names to a sign-on letter to Legislative Members of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means. 
(Picture Credit: Bing Bingham, Ashwood-Antelope RFPA)
Oregon Department of Forestry continues to adapt its programs to new COVID-19 realities to make the most of scarce resources. 18 of the 24 RFPAs received a Volunteer Fire Assistance grant this year. Thanks to Ashwood-Antelope RFPA and ODF Prineville for their work together to fight a 950 acre fire in June, just east of Madras. For more on Rangeland Fire Protection Associations and resources including online training materials (112 members have been trained thus far in 2020), check out 2020 RFPA Directory and the new website: https://sites.google.com/firenet.gov/rfpa/home

Welcome to Skyler Vold (bio), who is joining the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as the Sage-Grouse Conservation Coordinator starting August 3rd. 

ODFW has updated its website to help partners and interested parties navigate biological, ecological, habitat and population information, mitigation and economic development information, as well as track Local Implementation Team agenda items and events. Check it out: https://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/sagegrouse/

In 2015, the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) adopted sage-grouse- specific administrative rules for implementing Goal 5 of Oregon’s land use system (OAR 660-023-0115), otherwise known as the "Sage-Grouse Rule." The rule defines significant sage-grouse habitat and identifies land uses that conflict with mating and rearing. It directs counties to review development permit applications using avoidance and mitigation criteria, and it also sets a limit on the amount of core habitat that can be lost due to new development. DLCD is now undertaking a 5-year review, with an LCDC hearing expected in January 2021. Input is being solicited from counties, federal and state agencies, and non-governmental partners that participated in the 2015 Rulemaking Advisory Committee process.  For more information contact Jon Jinings or visit the DLCD ESA Candidate Species page.
SageCon Partner Leadership Updates/Transitions
Jamie Damon has led facilitation and process design for the SageCon Partnership as a project and process manager since 2011. This includes most recently with partners involved in the CCAA Coordinating Committee. Thank you Jamie, we wish you well in your new role with Kearns and West Consulting as she continues her mediation and facilitation practice in Oregon. Reach her here: jdamon@kearnswest.com
Bruce Taylor with the Intermountain West Joint Venture has been a key and influential leader in the advancement and communication of conservation values from the beginning of the SageCon Partnership. Thank you Bruce for your years of service representing the conservation community, notably on the Coordinating Council since 2019 (Bruce’s last meeting will be this fall). 
Invasive Annual Grass and Rangeland Research Resources
SageCon Technical Resources on the Web
Stay connected and find resources through the SageCon Partnership website. On the site, find the SageCon Tools Navigator, which provides a one-stop-shop for SageCon tools and technical resources such as:
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