California/Bishop Field Office
Mono County is located on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain
range in central California, along the Nevada border. The project area
includes parts of Long Valley, the Mono Basin, the Bodie Hills and Fales/Wheeler
Flat. US Highway 395 runs along the western boundary of the area to the
intersection with State Route 108 (Sonora Junction) 110 miles north of
Bishop. Some of the habitat lies within Wilderness Study Areas in the
Bodie Hills and Granite Mountain (Mono Basin) management areas.
Nature of the Project
The project has several different research and management dimensions.
Every year, BLM coordinates a census of sage-grouse activity on all known
leks in the area. An accompanying search for previously unknown leks turned
up four new strutting grounds in April 2004.
Telemetry data from radio-collared sage-grouse are collected, analyzed
and entered into a GIS database along with GPS coordinates for other land
features that affect habitat use, such as power lines and topography.
Several hundred telemetry points are currently in the database, including
information from 35 collared grouse in the Bodie Hills population.
Data on soils and vegetation from over 500,000 acres have been compiled
in a Broad Scale Sagebrush Classification Map. Vegetation sampling assesses
conditions in areas that sage-grouse use for various purposes, with special
emphasis on nesting locations. Pinyon pine removal enhances vegetation
conditions in breeding and nesting habitat. Cut pines were made available
as Christmas trees in local communities.
The Bishop FO also maintains habitat improvement projects in occupied
habitat. Some meadows preferred for foraging and brood-rearing underwent
initial restoration in the late 1970s.
Staff from the Bishop FO used this wealth of experience to play a central
role in developing a sage-grouse conservation strategy for the Bi-State
Dates of Project
Annual monitoring of strutting grounds has been conducted since 1953 in
Long Valley and the Bodie Hills, and on Fales/Wheeler Flat.
Restoration projects directly affecting the quality of sage grouse habitat
were begun in the 1970s. Other projects were implemented in the following
The Bishop FO undertook intensive assessment of individual sage grouse
in 2000. The U.S. Geological Survey has recently begun cooperating in
Bi-State conservation planning has been underway since November 2001.
Prior to 2003, all funding for monitoring, restoration projects and their
maintenance, and the ecology investigation came from small amounts of
Bishop FO base funding and a one-time California Department of Fish and
Game allocation for riparian/meadow restoration. In 2003 and 2004 the
Bishop FO received funding through the Interior Department’s Cooperative
Conservation Initiative (CCI) and Challenge Cost Share (CCS) programs,
and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Quail Unlimited “Answer
the Call” program. The funding allowed for inventory and assessment
and GIS mapping of essential sagebrush-steppe and associated habitat.
These funds were also used to delineate key sage grouse seasonal use areas
in the Bodie Hills, as described in the “Guidelines for Management
of Sage Grouse Populations and Habitats” (Connelly et. al. 2000).
Other agencies involved in the project include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, U.S. Geological Survey, USDA Forest Service (Inyo National Forest
and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest), Natural Resources Conservation
Service, California Department of Fish and Game, Nevada Department of
Wildlife, Nevada-California Bi-State Local Area Conservation Planning
Group (a mix of federal, state and county agencies along with concerned
interest groups and individuals including public land commodity producers),
the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Mono County and
Town of Mammoth Lakes, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Quail
Best Management Practices
The Bishop FO Resource Management Plan identifies several management decisions
that would affect sage-grouse and habitat quality. Salting and supplemental
livestock feeding is prohibited within ¼ mile of strutting grounds.
Conditions of grazing leases also ensure that fences are not located on
strutting grounds and that escape ramps are installed in livestock water
troughs. Other decisions establish plant community goals for sage-grouse
forage and cover requirements and prohibit camping within 1/3
mile of strutting grounds during breeding periods.
Other BMPs include leaving 4-6” of residual herbaceous stubble
height on meadows and riparian sites at the end of a grazing period; locating
any new livestock handling or management facilities outside riparian/wetland
areas; developing water sources that maintain ecologic and hydrologic
function and processes of the source; and setting maximum utilization
of perennial key forage species at 40%.
Terry Russi, BLM Bishop Field Office – (760) 872-5035
Steve Nelson, BLM Bishop Field Office – (760) 872-5006
||Since 1953, BLM and its partners have
inventoried sage-grouse strutting grounds in California's Long Valley
and Mono Basin. An accompanying search for previously unrecorded leks
discovered four of them in April 2004. This and other data collected
by the BLM's Bishop Field Office has been instrumental in developing
a sage-grouse conservation strategy for the California-Nevada bi-state
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