The National Sage-Grouse Habitat Conservation Strategy

In November 2004, the BLM released its National Sage-Grouse Habitat Conservation Strategy (244kb PDF), which emphasizes partnership in conserving sage-grouse habitat through consultation, cooperation, and communication with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the USDA Forest Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, State wildlife agencies, local sage-grouse working groups (LWGs), and various other public and private partners.

The Strategy calls for managing public lands in a manner that will maintain, enhance and restore sage-grouse and sagebrush habitats while continuing to provide for multiple uses of lands under BLM stewardship.  It lists 48 actions that can be integrated or coordinated with other approved uses of public lands and additional goals outlined by Congress, in coordination with Federal and State partners.

With leadership and adequate resources, these actions form a consistent, effective framework for addressing sage-grouse conservation needs on lands the BLM manages.  Ongoing partnerships enhance the effectiveness of habitat management, increase understanding of resource conditions, help prioritize habitat restoration and maintenance projects, and expand research and monitoring efforts. 

In finalizing the Strategy, the BLM carefully considered the Conservation Assessment published by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (June 2004, 11.6MB PDF) of current status and trends in sage-grouse populations and habitats across the West.  This was the first-ever assessment of its kind, and information from it was incorporated into the BLM National Strategy where appropriate.

The BLM Final Strategy also reflects the most current information and many comments received during the comment period on the Draft Strategy issued in June 2003.  Individuals, state agencies, industry and interest groups concerned with sage-grouse conservation submitted an extensive amount of information during the comment period, which lasted through November 1, 2003. 

Additional, extensive public input was gained during implementation of the National Strategy, which took place through the BLM's land use planning process.  Land use planning maximizes the opportunity for the kind of public involvement needed to apply the BLM's scientific knowledge and past experience to future management efforts.  Resource Management Plans (RMPs) are flexible enough to be amended where necessary to integrate goals outlined in documents like the National Strategy with other uses of public lands - including recreation, energy development, livestock grazing, mining and fire management. 

Public involvement with the BLM's sage-grouse and sagebrush habitat conservation efforts continues through sage-grouse local working groups (LWGs), which are the cornerstone of ongoing efforts to reverse long-term declines in sage-grouse populations and habitats.  The active involvement of BLM specialists and managers in LWGs allows mutual support for efforts to conserve sagebrush habitat wherever it exists and whether it is managed by government agencies or private entities.