The Gunnison Sage Grouse Working Group
Gunnison (Colorado) Field Office
The Gunnison Basin includes Gunnison and Saguache Counties in southwestern Colorado. Sage-grouse in this area have been determined to be a separate species from Greater sage-grouse. Small populations of Gunnison sage-grouse inhabit other parts of southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah, but the Gunnison/Saguache population is larger than all of these combined.
In 1994 the BLM invited concerned individuals and groups to meet and discuss the status and future of the Gunnison sage-grouse. The following year, the BLM initiated and helped coordinate a formal collaborative community effort to develop a conservation plan. The Gunnison Sage Grouse Working Group worked to identify factors that may have contributed to the species’ decline, and develop strategies for increasing populations to perhaps avert the need to list the grouse as an endangered species.
Over the following two years, a core group of 16 to 20 people met twice every month to write the Gunnison Sage Grouse Conservation Plan, which outlines 42 factors believed to affect sage-grouse in the basin and more than 200 conservation actions to help reverse declines in the population.
Rangeland users, landowners, concerned citizens, academic researchers, private organizations, and local, state, and Federal agencies continue to cooperate in gathering data for monitoring and evaluating progress.
The working group reconvenes periodically to review the plan, evaluate progress and draft a strategy for ongoing implementation of the conservation actions. An information and education campaign, on-the-ground habitat manipulation, and radio-collar research also continue.
Fitting sage-grouse hens with
radio collars allows researchers
to track them through seasonal
and breeding cycles.
The core working group included representatives of the BLM, the Black Canyon Audubon Society, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Gunnison County Planning Commission, Gunnison County Stockgrowers, Gunnison County Weed Commission, High Country Citizens’ Alliance, Natural Resources Conservation Service and USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service, along with a number of concerned individuals.
A Rangewide Gunnison Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan has also been completed for Gunnison sage-grouse throughout their range in southwestern Colorado. This rangewide plan uses many strategies outlined in the plan for the Gunnison Basin.
Local BLM Contact: Sandy Borthwick, Gunnison Field Office - (970) 641-0471