Sage Grouse Conversation Partnership
January Monthly Mailing (Sent Feb 10, 2017)
Federal Updates

New BLM State Director for Oregon--Jamie Connell to start in February 2017.  Theresa Hanley has been and is currently serving as Acting Director for Oregon.  Congratulations to Jamie, and thank you to Theresa.  Full Press Release available here:

BLM Public Meeting regarding mineral withdrawal proposal set for February 22nd in Lakeview. The BLM is holding eight public open houses throughout the West in February to gather input on the agency’s proposal to withdraw a subset of lands in sage-grouse habitat from future mining claims. This is the next step in the NEPA / EIS process begun in 2015 as part of the effort to avoid and Endangered Species Act listing.  The Feb. 22 meeting in Lakeview will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at the BLM Lakeview District office at 1301 S. G St. Link to BLM Press Release with more information such as locations/dates including February 24, 2017 meeting in Bose, ID:

USFWS recently added new staff to their field offices, and are in the process of shifting some sage-grouse workload to better match up with staff capacity and expertise. Angela Sitz has been selected as the FWS Region 1 Rangeland Health Specialist, focusing on addressing fire and invasive species issues. Dawn Davis has been selected as FWS Region 1’s Regional Sagebrush Ecosystem Ecologist, working on issues related to the greater sage-grouse and sagebrush ecosystems throughout the Great Basin. Also, Dirk Renner with the Partners for Fish & Wildlife Program will be taking on additional duties with an elevated role in sage-steppe conservation and assisting with the implementation of the CCAAs. Dirk, Angela, and Dawn are all based out of the Bend Field Office. In addition, Marisa Meyer has returned to the La Grande Field Office after a 16-month stint with the USFS; she will work on multiple aspects of the sage grouse effort, including working with Jackie Cupples on CCAAs and helping the BLM implement the RMPAs in eastern Oregon.

The Conservation Efforts Database has gone through a complete retooling, now focusing on the larger sage-brush ecosystem. Data can be entered spatially as well as quantitatively; spatial explicit data collected will have a specific analysis pathway. The development team is currently testing and expects to release CED 2.0 later this spring, at which time data entry will be open to the public and USFWS conservation partners. Looking forward to 2020, there will not be a specific data call (unlike 2015); cooperators will be able to enter projects anytime on an ongoing basis.

The Secretary of the Interior Appointment is underway. President Trump has nominated Rep. Zinke (R-MT.) for this cabinet position, who would be overseeing agencies including BLM, USFWS, and others.  Rep. Zinke has Oregon connections (U of Oregon Alum; Geology degree and Duck football standout) and offered the following thoughts on sage-grouse / BLM management during his recent Senate hearing. Video Clip here:
State Action Plan 
  • ODFW is investing in radio collars for 2017 Spring-Summer population counts, which will also provide important information relevant to habitat use. To review the “State of Sage Grouse in Oregon” presentation provided by Lee Foster at the September 2016 SageCon Partnership Meeting; visit: 
  • 2017 Population counts coming this spring.The ”Adopt-a-Lek” program has been part of recent successful work to boost population surveys / monitoring.  Volunteers receive lek count protocol training and learn how to survey for new leks, while being exposed to the outdoor elements in all of their splendor! Count information is used to estimate the State’s breeding population and is add it to the sage grouse database used by federal and state biologists.  If you or those you know are interested in signing up for the “Adopt-a-Lek” program, contact your local ODFW office, or Lee Foster at 541- 573-6582 or
  • Work continues at the local level on public and private lands, including in coordination with SWCD’s and landowners connected to CCAA’s.
  • The Executive Order 15-18 Report is in final draft form and undergoing final review prior to submission to the Governor.  It captures implementation work that has been advanced  with legislative and lottery funding tied to state agencies named in the EO.  The final EO Report will be shared with the SageCon Partnership distribution list.
  • Multiple partners are continuing the development of the Oregon Decision Support System (ORDSS), which integrates data layers across information areas key to prioritization of approaches to habitat restoration, development siting, mitigation credits, pre-and post-wildfire planning, and more.   

Development and Mitigation

  • Project proposals in sage grouse habitat exist related to aggregate mining, sunstone mining, power transmission (B2H), and solar development.  These projects are connected to implementation of the state rules adopted in 2015 around avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation.
  • Related to the above projects; ODFW, BLM, and other participating entities continue to work on the State’s mitigation program, Oregon’s Habitat Quantification tool and Mitigation Protocol / Manual.
  • The State is advancing the construction of its Development Registry (tied to LCDC rules) through an agreement between DLCD and OSU / Oregon Explorer.  
  • The Development Registry will capture data relevant to development (and the associated 3% and 1% sage-grouse relevant thresholds) as collected by county planners, state agencies, and the BLM.  
  • This tool, along with those from other states, will sync data with the federal registry and relevant ESA reviews by USFWS.  Funding support has been enhanced by ODFW, and the Registry tool may sync with ORDSS and other technical efforts. Coordination is occurring with counties and other partners regarding data layer use, updates, user-friendliness / functionality, and consistency with DLCD’s land use rule.

Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)

  • A draft MOA related to coordination between federal, state, and local government decision-makers over greater sage-grouse and sage steppe habitat in Oregon is complete and currently being circulated for partner review and input. Other states have or are currently pursuing MOA’s with the federal government.  In Oregon, the MOA reaches beyond the scope of MOA’s in other states and has been envisioned as an important part of the State’s Action plan related to coordinated approaches across issue areas including development, mitigation, habitat restoration, wildfire, adaptive management and monitoring.  Contact Brett Brownscombe with information/questions.

Local Implementation Teams
  • A subcommittee of the Baker LIT has been hard at work developing an integrated, all lands, conservation plan for the Baker PAC.  That subcommittee will present a draft to the larger LIT at the next meeting, tentatively scheduled for late February, or early March TBD.
  • Prineville LIT will be meeting February 21st, 1 – 4, to discuss Prineville BLM’s RMPA Implementation Plan.  Location TBD.
  • Lee Foster provided an update on the status of the LIT effort to the BLM’s SE Oregon Resource Advisory Council (RAC), at the Burns BLM office, on Monday, January 30th.  Discussion centered around how to integrate BLM Causal Factor Analyses with the LITs and the RAC, and membership of the LITs. For meeting materials and updates from LIT’s around SE oregon, visit ODFW’s website:
Research/Technical Updates
OSU has hired 3 new positions (intended as part of a long-term commitment) related to OSU’s Sage-grouse Hiring Cluster funded during Oregon’s 2015 legislative session. These positions will form the core for OSU’s sage-grouse research and extension programs, guided by an overall mission to develop research and outreach that maintains and/or improves greater sage-grouse habitat on private and public lands while contributing to the economic sustainability of landowners and maintaining the ranching culture.  These positions are:
1)  Jonathan Dinkins, Assistant Professor of Shrub-steppe Wildlife Habitat Ecology; Corvallis
2)  Vanessa Schroeder, Faculty Research Assistant; E. Oregon Agricultural Resarch Station (EOARC), Burns
3)  Fara Brummer, Faculty Research Assistant; Lakeview
For more information, contact David Bohnert ( or Dustin Johnson (
Recent Retirements
We want to recognize the contributions to the SageCon Partnership of several leaders who have recently retired. If anyone would like to express their appreciation directly, email Julia Babcock for current contact information. 
  • Harney County Judge, Steve Grasty retired December 2016 after serving for over 17 years.
  • Mike Haske retired from BLM  January  2017 with over 37 years of federal service.
  • Ron Anglin, ODFW's Wildlife Div. Administrator served at ODFW for 40 years until retiring November 2016. 
  • Lanny Quackenbush, Rangeland Manager for the Department of State Lands retired February 1, 2017.

Membership/Distribution List Changes/Requests for Info/Updates

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.  Also, please send along additional names of people you know wish to be added to the distribution list.  Send info or contact Julia Babcock at: 503-725-8109 to be added and or with general questions and/or information to be shared in the monthly mailings. To review/edit your information directly, find below a link to the current distribution list:

Sage Grouse In the News*
powered by emma
Subscribe to our email list.