Sage Grouse Conservation Partnership
April-June 2019 News and Updates (Sent July 3, 2019)
Federal Updates
BLM issued the following news release “Interior’s BLM analyzes 11,000 miles of Fuel Breaks in the Great Basin to Combat Wildfires regarding the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) to develop a system of fuel breaks. Public meetings  for Oregon are scheduled as follows: 
*July 8 5:00-7:00 p.m.: Harney County Community Center, 478 N Broadway Ave., Burns, OR 9772
*July 9 5:00-7:00 p.m.: Red Lion Boise Hotel, 1800 W Fairview Ave., Boise, ID 8370
*July 11 5:00-7:00 p.m.: BLM Lakeview District Office, 1301 South G Street, Lakeview, OR 97630
An electronic copy of the Draft Programmatic EIS and associated documents is available on the BLM Land Use Planning and NEPA register at For comments to be considered, they must be received by the BLM no later than midnight MST on August 5, 2019.
Through August 28th, the Vale District BLM is taking public comment on the draft Southeastern Oregon Resource Management Plan Amendment and draft Environmental Impact Statement, both released May 31. The planning area includes approximately 4.6 million acres of BLM-administered lands — mostly in Malheur County, with some in Grant and Harney counties. Official BLM press release:

NRCS through the Sage Grouse Initiative "Sage-Grouse Populations Grow When Conifers Are Removed" reflects lessons under SGI-researcher Andrew Olsen showing sage grouse populations grew 12% after sustained, targeted, watershed-scale conifer removal efforts. Olsen and his field team tracked sage grouse across a 109,000-acre restoration site where conifers were removed and across an 82,000-acre control site where no conifers were cut. This scale is unique in sage grouse research to date. Key findings include: 
*From 2011-2017, the extent of conifer cover in sagebrush country decreased by 1.6%. *Human management efforts are responsible for 2/3 of the total reduction; the other 1/3 is due to wildfires.
*Previous estimates suggest that conifer cover in sagebrush country is growing by 0.4%-1.5% annually, which means that our efforts are keeping pace with conifer encroachment but that more needs to be done.
*Public/private partnerships are successfully reducing conifers in highly targeted priority watersheds, such as in northwest Utah.
*The maps also show that woodlands are still expanding into many sagebrush landscapes. Continued partnership efforts are needed to strategically conserve priority shrublands.
USGS & USFS scientists tracked wildfire activity in the Great Basin to study the interplay with invasives in the research paper titled “The Ecological Uncertainty of Wildfire Fuel Breaks: Examples from the Sagebrush Steppe “ published in Ecological Society of America. Given uncertain outcomes, they examined how implementation of fuel breaks might: (1) directly alter ecosystems; (2) create edge and edge effects; (3) serve as vectors for wildlife movement and plant invasions; (4) fragment otherwise contiguous sagebrush landscapes; and (5) benefit from scientific investigation intended to disentangle their ecological costs and benefits.  
USFWS partnered with NPCC in the first SageWest Newsletter on feature article, "Paradise Not Lost? Saving Sagebrush Country from a Fiery Fate" that relays how Oregon's RFPAs significantly reduced the number of acres burned in 2018.    
State Updates
ODA passed a rule for limited application of any product containing aminocyclopyrachlor with specific prohibitions on use in proximity to greater sage-grouse. Help spread the word about these new regulations to private and public land managers in your circle to protect sagebrush health. More information on the official rulemaking site here: 

ODF held  the Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPA)  Annual Summit was held at the Burns Pauite Reservation May 9-10th. Representation from 100+ people representing 22 of the now 24 RFPA's as well as federal and state partner agencies (pictured above). All gathered to share lessons learned from the field ranging from fire safety to aerial surveillance to ways to acquire surplus equipment. See RFPA 2018 fire season stats in the RFPA Spring Flyer.

ODFW/DLCD/DOGAMI weighed in on the Calico Grassy Mountain Project Conditional Use Permit (CUP) has been reviewed by DLCD, ODFW and DOGAMI as cooperating agencies in consultation with Malheur County Planning Commission. The following letter outlining conditions of approval has been issued to apply the mitigation hierarchy according to ODFW and DLCD state rules for the next level of review. Related news story:

ODOE released the draft proposed order in May for the Boardman to Hemingway transmission line (B2H). ODOE staff recommend approval of the project, and has an assessment of the facility’s compliance with Oregon’s sage grouse conservation rules from both ODFW and LCDC in the DPO. The public comment period is open until July 23, 2019. Additional details on those hearings are on the ODOE B2H website:

Upcoming Events

(pictured above Andrew Shields with sage-grouse flying in the field on Roaring Springs Ranch view from the Burns Pauite Reservation and the Harney County Courthouse)

July 15, 2019 from 1pm to 3pm in Prineville, OR at the BLM Office--you are invited to join in a focus group session to contribute your perspectives, interests and expertise related to sagebrush ecosystems. The Ruckelshaus Institute at the University of Wyoming has been funded by WAFWA to conduct research on social science research needs to help natural resource managers integrate social and ecological perspectives into more comprehensive sagebrush management strategies.More specifically, we will facilitate a conversation to 1) ground-truth findings and 2) understand the relevance of social science to different decision-making processes.RSVP to Claire Barnwell: 
September 24-26, 2019, the 12th annual Private Lands Partners Day is scheduled for  in Ogden, Utah. Registration is open, attendees typically gather from over 30 states. The gathering has become a premier national gathering of landowners and conservation partners engaged in public-private conservation partnerships.  This year’s meeting is themed Private Lands Partners Day in a Public Lands state and will showcase the collaborative conservation efforts of landowners and their public and nongovernmental partners in Utah and the Great Basin.  
Multimedia Research and Publications
Roaring Springs Ranch hosted a hands-on training for ranchers from OR, NV and ID for the Low-Stress Stockmanship Training which teaches approaches to managing cattle and maintaining functioning ecosystems. Sponsors included Nevada Department of Agriculture and BLM Riparian Team. Read all about it here:

Idaho Fish and Game has seen lots of hits on its video of a sage-grouse capture.

Robots, Telemetry, & the Sex Lives of Wild Birds” video lecture features Gail Patricelli, professor in the Department of Evolution & Ecology and chair of the Animal Behavior Graduate Group at University of California, Davis, with a focus on understanding the diversity and complexity in animal signals. Current projects address breeding behaviors, sexual selection, acoustic communication, and the effects of noise pollution on sage-grouse and other wildlife.

SageCon Technical Resources on the Web
The SageCon website provides information about the partnership, the Oregon Sage-Grouse Action Plan, tools to aid in implementation and monitoring of the state Action Plan, and other resources. Decision support tools have been developed by the SageCon Partnership to aid in coordinated planning throughout sage-grouse habitat in the state. The Oregon Sage-Grouse Development Siting Tool allows developers and planners to input potential project footprints and get information about the mitigation hierarchy and likely impacts to sage-grouse. The SageCon Landscape Planning Tool (formerly called the Data Viewer) has also been updated with new vegetation maps and other spatial data for rangelands in the state, and will soon allow users to create customized queries to identify areas for potential restoration, protection, or other priorities based on the best geospatial data available within the state. In addition, SageCon is also producing guidance for using remotely sensed rangeland maps, including a curated list of map products that may be helpful for assessment of rangeland conditions and management planning in Oregon. Over the next year, the partnership plans to create an online SageCon Dashboard to highlight monitoring information and success stories of the SageCon partnership – stay tuned in the upcoming months for more!
powered by emma
Subscribe to our email list.