The Shoshone Basin Sage Grouse Local Working Group
Burley (Idaho) Field Office
The Shoshone Basin lies approximately 30 miles south of Twin Falls, Idaho. Private lands provide much of the Basin’s important sage-grouse habitat and comprise approximately 35% of the area. The working group concentrated on four BLM grazing allotments and associated private lands (36,000 acres; 6,000 AUMs) where sage-grouse numbers had declined.
The Shoshone Basin Local Working Group was organized in July 1994, the first such group formed in Idaho to address sage-grouse management issues. Participants began by thoroughly discussing factors potentially contributing to sage-grouse population declines, including habitat conditions, predation, drought, cattle grazing, prescribed burning, herbicide use, and hunting.
The group decided to focus on habitat and livestock management issues and agreed to seek a win-win solution to providing livestock forage while meeting the seasonal habitat requirements of sage-grouse.
One of the most significant challenges was how to manage sage-grouse habitat on private lands, which are commonly incorporated into BLM grazing allotments. The economic importance of private lands to a livestock business often limits what landowners can accept in terms of managing wildlife habitat.
The group found that incorporating private lands provided greater management flexibility and would achieve the most benefit to both livestock and sage-grouse.
Focusing on sage-grouse and livestock management issues a few allotments at a time requires a considerable investment of time and effort by agency personnel, ranchers, and other participants. But this approach has resulted in a variety of proactive and innovative changes that will benefit sage-grouse and livestock operators in both the short and long terms.
The group’s efforts will continue indefinitely. Other LWGs can look to the Shoshone Basin as an example of how livestock and wildlife both benefit from proper land management practices on private and public lands.
Participants include ranchers, sportsmen and representatives from the BLM, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Idaho Department of Lands.
Local BLM Contact: Michael Courtney, Burley Field Office – (208) 677-6637