Sage Grouse Conservation Partnership
June News and Updates (Sent  June 30, 2017)
Federal Updates
Department of Interior
June 7, 2017 Secretary Zinke signed Secretarial Order No. 3353, Subject: Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation and Cooperation with Western States. The Order establishes an internal review team to “evaluate both Federal sage-grouse plans and state plans and programs to ensure they are complementary...and consider local economic growth and job creation.”  This review process is ongoing. For more information, here is the DOI press release.
Baker Causal Factor Analysis Final Report and Worksheet
The Baker Priority Area for Conservation (PAC) tripped a hard trigger for sage-grouse population in 2016. In accordance with the Adaptive Management Strategy in Oregon's Greater sage-grouse Approved Resource Management Plan Amendment, the BLM State Office convened an interdisciplinary and interagency team to identify what threats to sage-grouse population growth are present and what actions BLM might take to halt and reverse the decline. Team members included representatives from the State Office, Field Office, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and US Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, the BLM solicited input on the threats and potential actions from members of the public, ODFW's Local Implementation Team (LIT), and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The analysis covers all lands within the PAC, but the recommendations cover only BLM-managed lands and potential partnership opportunities. The results of the CFA are captured in the Final Report, with final short- and long-term actions summarized in the Worksheet.
Table 2-2 Final
This document provides clarification on the use of the sage-grouse habitat objectives table, often referred to as Table 2-2, in the Greater Sage-Grouse Approved Resource Management Plan Amendment (ARMPA) and their relationship to land health standards, processing grazing permit renewals, and authorizing other uses of BLM rangelands in areas designated as sage-grouse habitat. The habitat objectives table in the ARMPA should be used to assess sage-grouse habitat conditions, evaluate habitat condition trend over time, and develop long-term objectives. No singles indicator from the habitat objectives table or one-time measurement of the indicators in the table should be used to determine habitat conditions. This is not new policy but provides additional clarification and responds to questions on the decisions in the GRSG plans and associated existing policy.  As needed, BLM may also update the GRSG Implementation Guide or issue an information bulletin.  
Secretary Zinke announced Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Director Greg Sheehan as new Deputy Director of USFWS. Sheehan will serve as the Acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service until a Director is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Press release here: 
CCAA Coordination
The All-County / CCAA Coordination Committee recently met in Burns to discuss a variety of relevant issues including the connection between mitigation and CCAA’s, monitoring and reporting, and RCPP and OWEB FIP strategic plan investments. Committee meetings include Oregon SWCD’s within the range of sage-grouse, USFWS, NRCS, OWEB, ODFW, as well as representation from other entities. In addition, NRCS will be transitioning from a facilitation to a substantive role on the Committee, who is in the process of transitioning to a new facilitator.
State Updates

Coordinating Council Forming

Governor Brown issued a letter regarding the formation of and designation of representatives to the SageCon Coordinating Council.  The Council concept is part of the State’s Action Plan and related Executive Order.  It aims to promote coordination across federal, state, and county governments plus non-governmental stakeholders, as well as a venue to “find consensus recommendations that reflect an integrated and collaborative landscape-level approach” to land management and sage grouse conservation. 

In addition, the State along with BLM, USFWS, NRCS and associated Oregon counties are working to advance a next iteration draft MOU regarding promotion of partnership, coordination, consistency and leveraging resources related to sage grouse work. The MOU will help formalize the Coordinating Council structure, which is expected to kickoff in Fall 2017.

Oregon Legislative Session

The 2017 Legislative session continues into its final days.  Among issues to be resolved in the final days are bills related to land use in Oregon’s sagebrush geography as well as funding efforts related to sage grouse, rangeland and rural community health, and SageCon coordination. More information to follow in future updates.


RFPA Summit--the Burns Paiute Tribe recently hosted the10th annual RFPA summit in Burns.  Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPA’s) and their individual landowner Board of Directors from around the sagebrush range joined ODF, BLM,USFS and others to discuss ongoing investments, training and communications efforts, and other issues related to wildland fire in sagebrush country.  At the summit, the RFPA’s and BLM announced the formation of an MOU between the entities related to roles, communication, training, and relationships tied to cross-boundary fire operations in Oregon’s vast sagebrush range.

Local Implementation Teams

A Local Implementation Team meeting will be held in Prineville July 13. 1:00-4:00 p.m. For more information including meeting materials and upcoming dates see:

Economic Impacts of Ecosystem Restoration
Return on investment is an important factor in resource allocation and sage grouse is proving to be a good investment; from collaborative capacity to juniper removal to restoration; indicators across the West are showing good news for sage grouse population and the resilience of the sagebrush sea. Specifically, a study conducted by USGS analyzed BLM projects from fuels reduction to post-fire restoration projects.Longer term studies could show even broader and durable benefits.
Study analyzing long-term impacts of different treatments prescribed burning, mechanical treatment, etc.) on the understory and tree species recovery for sagebrush sites.  
New study on sage grouse shows 25% increase in bird populations where junipers have been removed.
Sage Grouse In the News*
(June 15, 2017) Veterans in DC: Don't Weaken Sage Grouse Protections (Source: Public News Service) 
(June 16, 2017) Junipers vs. sage grouse (Source: La Grande Observer)
(June 14, 2017) Experts: Captive breeding of sage grouse won't work (Source: High Country News)
(June 5, 2017) Animal Tales: A Great White Sage Grouse (Source: Sage Grouse Initiative)
(May 29, 2017)  Settle sage-grouse issues out of court, governor says (Source: GJ Sentinel)
(May 16, 2017) Colorado Counties Sue Over Bird Protection (Source:KTVZ)
(May 9, 2017) Study: Fed program surprisingly beneficial to WA sage grouse (Source: Washington Times) 
(April 27, 2017) Kill A Juniper Tree, Save A Sage Grouse (Source: OPB News)
*Please Note, these news stories/links don’t represent the totality of sage-grouse-related articles in the news, nor do they represent endorsement of any statements made as part of the story. If you have news stories to share, please pass them along
Morning in the Lek photo series
Ongoing Updates...
We are working to round up information from partner meetings, reports and implementation activities around the state--please send leads our way. Further, the SageCon Partnership distribution list is maintained to the best of our ability to reflect stakeholder/staffing changes. Please help us stay up to date by reviewing / editing your contact information directly (see link below), and please add your direct phone # if you are willing.  Send along related information to Julia Babcock at:
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