BLM Colorado Sage-grouse Conservation Efforts
Colorado is home to the greater sage-grouse, as well as the Gunnison sage-grouse. Both species are included on the BLM Colorado State Director’s sensitive species list.
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BLM Colorado manages 46 percent (1,815,426 acres) of Colorado’s greater sage-grouse habitat totaling 3,990,031 acres and 49 percent (389,495 acres) of Colorado’s Gunnison sage-grouse habitat, which totals 797,432 acres. The BLM has been working with multiple stakeholders to implement conservation actions for both species in the state. The BLM is incorporating conservation strategies for both species into land use plan revisions and using them to prioritize local projects. These conservation plans have also laid the groundwork for future research needs related to sage-grouse in Colorado.
The greater sage-grouse is distributed in six populations in northwestern Colorado:
- Primary threats include oil and gas development, infrastructure, fragmentation of habitat, fire and invasive weeds.
- There are currently five local working groups and associated local conservation plans active in the state.
Multiple agencies and public stakeholders helped develop the Colorado Greater Sage-grouse Statewide Conservation Plan (2008) under the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (formerly Colorado Division of Wildlife) direction. This plan provides a range of conservation strategies to address potential impacts, maintenance, and connectivity of sagebrush habitats within the range of the species.
The BLM is involved in several research studies conducted by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife in northwest Colorado to assess sage-grouse response to habitat improvement projects and to develop seasonal use habitat maps that can help inform management decisions.
BLM Colorado is working with Wyoming, Montana and Utah as a part of the BLM National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy to provide a planning framework and structure for transparent, interagency collaboration that focuses on developing long-term greater sage-grouse conservation and habitat restoration. Through this strategy the BLM will be developing and incorporating consistent, effective regulatory mechanisms (conservation measures) into resource management plans across the range of the greater sage-grouse.
Southwest Colorado contains seven of the eight remaining Gunnison sage-grouse populations:
- Primary threats include loss or fragmentation of habitat; lack of linkages or habitat connectivity between populations; invasive weeds; small populations; and the potential for disease, fire, or development to drastically affect an individual population’s viability.
In April 2005 the BLM signed the Range-wide Gunnison Sage-grouse Conservation Plan, which was developed using an interagency team led by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife. This plan provides extensive guidance for management of the species, by population and on a range-wide basis, to address conservation issues and maintenance of local populations.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife is in the early stages of working with the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Gunnison County, and the BLM Gunnison Field Office to develop a research project that assesses impacts of grazing on Gunnison sage-grouse.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife developed a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances in 2006. Private landowners have renewed their interest to sign up under Certificates of Inclusion through this process.
The BLM is developing a Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA), a formal agreement between the BLM and one or more parties, on public lands in the Gunnison Basin. Discussions concerning this CCA are on-going.