Feds say greater sage-grouse not endangered


Greater sage-grouse doing fine, feds say.

No listing needed …

Staff Report

Making a decision for which the political handwriting was on the wall a long time ago, the U.S. Department of Interior this week said that greater sage-grouse are doing just fine, and don’t need protection of the Endangered Species Act.

The non-listing may very well be challenged in court by some conservation groups who question whether a patchwork of voluntary conservation measures will be enough to save one of the West’s landmark species, but federal officials — tired of fighting with governors in western states like Colorado and Nevada, said the birds “remain relatively abundant and well-distributed: across their 173-million acre range. Continue reading

Colorado wants feds to sanction a market-driven sage grouse habitat conservation plan


Colorado hopes that a voluntary market-based conservation program can help protect important habitat for greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Habitat exchange could pay off for Colorado ranchers, developers — and, hopefully, sage grouse

Staff Report

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says a state program aimed at conserving sage-grouse habitat is ready for primetime. This week, the state sought formal recognition from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the voluntary, market-based conservation plan.

Continue reading

Getting a handle on wildfires may be key to saving greater sage-grouse


Wildfires are putting a bit hit on greater sage-grouse populations. Photo via USFWS.

Current wildfire trends could cut sage grouse populations dramatically

Staff Report

Slowing the spiral of growing wildfires may be crucial to protecting greater sage-grouse during the next 30 years, U.S. Geological Survey researchers said after comparing wildfire, precipitation and sage grouse population trends.

Cutting destructive fires near key habitat areas would be most beneficial and could even help sage grouse populations rebound, the scientists concluded.

The new study  projects that, if the current trend in wildfire continues unabated, sage grouse populations will continue to plummet — by as much as half by the mid-1940s. The models used by the scientists  simulated different post-fire recovery times for sagebrush habitats based on soil attributes — soil moisture and temperature maps — that strongly influence resilience to wildfire and resistance to invasive grass species. Continue reading

Study eyes powerlines as factor in sage grouse decline


Greater sage-grouse avoid powerlines, and the poles are used by perching raptors that target sage grouse nests. Photo via USGS.

Another piece in the sage grouse puzzle …

Staff Report

FRISCO — After closely studying a greater sage-grouse subpopulation on the Columbia Plateau in eastern Washington, wildlife biologists said that power lines may be a greater factor in habitat fragmentation than previously believed.

The new study found that transmission lines from hydroelectric dams and wind turbines affect greater sage grouse habitat by isolating fragile populations and limiting movement. The was published online this summer in the journal Landscape Ecology.

“With only a fraction of pre-settlement habitat left in the state for this species, it’s key that all of that habitat be connected in order for the population to be viable in the future,” said lead author Andrew Shirk, a research scientist with the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group. Continue reading

Feds boost greater sage-grouse efforts with $211 million for more conservation measures


Can more money help save greater sage-grouse?

Focus is on voluntary, incentive-based approach

Staff Report

FRISCO —Acknowledging the deteriorating health of sagebrush habitat and the decline of greater sage-grouse, federal officials this week announced a $211 million push to fund  conservation plans and to help implement an effective strategy to reduce rangeland fire risk.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the Sage Grouse Initiative 2.0 will provide additional assistance for ranchers to make conservation improvements to their land, which mutually benefits the iconic bird and agricultural operations in 11 Western states. Continue reading

Wildlife advocates question federal sage grouse maps


Proposed federal conservation plans for greater sage-grouse have sliced and diced important habitat, conservation advocates say. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Report says fragmented habitat isn’t adequate for protection of species

Staff Report

FRISCO — After a detailed mapping analysis maps, wildlife conservation advocates say the federal government downsized important habitat for sage grouse.

The findings are outlined in a new report released by WildEarth Guardians. It compares protected areas to remaining key population hotspots. Almost 20 million acres designated as Priority Areas for Conservation disappeared from the Priority Habitat areas proposed in U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management sage grouse plans. Continue reading

BLM finalizes new management plan for huge tracts of public land in north-central Colorado

Greater sage-grouse get special protection


A new BLM resource management plan in place for public lands in Grand, Summit, Larimer, Jackson and Eagle counties.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Bureau of Land Management has finalized a new plan for about 378,000 acres of public lands in Grand, Jackson, Summit, Larimer and Eagle counties, managed by the agency’s Kremmling office. The plan also covers management of 653,500 acres of subsurface mineral rights. Continue reading


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