Habitat for food, security and connectivity

Greater sage-grouse rely completely on sagebrush lands for all aspects of their life cycle. Sagebrush leaves are a year-round food source. Mature sagebrush provides cover, particularly to nesting hens and young chicks but also to individual grouse of any age trying to avoid predators. From late spring through the summer, native grasses and flowering plants complement the cover and diversity the diet

Local populations of sage-grouse may need up to 40 square miles (103.6 km2, 25,600 acres) of intact sagebrush habitat to sustain themselves season by season. 

All told, the BLM manages nearly 67 million of the 145 million acres of greater sage-grouse habitat in the United States, the largest single share. Healthy, intact habitats sustain wildlife populations, which in North America are the responsibility of state government agencies even though wildlife does not live according to legal jurisdictions or ownership boundaries. 

a graphic showing the varying vegetation cover that sage-grouse require at different times of the year

Intact sagebrush does not mean uniform coverage across a habitat area or the entire ecosystem, but rather a mosaic
of shrubs, seasonal native grasses and flowering plants, and vegetation along streams, where sage-grouse may
move to when rangelands begin to dry out. | BLM graphic/V. Rathbun

Recent science shows that habitat loss, exacerbated by climate-related effects like drought and increasing wildfires that allow non-native plants to crowd out native species, is causing is causing the number of sage-grouse to continue declining. More than 350 other species mule deer, pronghorn and pygmy rabbit among them  are also affected when sagebrush habitat is lost or fragmented. 

The BLM has proposed updates to the management plans that guide sagebrush conservation and restoration on public lands to balance habitat protection with other uses and coordinate with state, local, Tribal and private partners to ensure that conservation work happens in the right places. 

GET INVOLVED | Review and comment on the draft environmental analysis of proposed options for strengthening protection of the greater sage-grouse's habitat on BLM-managed public lands. The public comment period is open through June 13, 2024. 

Heather Feeney, Public Affairs Specialist

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