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Sage-Grouse Conservation Fund

Examples of Recently-Funded Projects

Sagebrush ecosystem conservation in support of sagebrush obligate species remains a primary focus for the BLM, given the multitude of both natural and human-caused factors causing fragmentation and loss of sagebrush habitats across much of the western United States.

The BLM's Wildlife Program supports sage-grouse conservation projects undertaken in partnership with a variety of stakeholders and consistent with State-led sage-grouse conservation plans, State Wildlife Action Plans and Sage-Grouse Local Working Group Plans as well as with BLM’s national strategy and BLM state-level strategies.

Sage grouse in a field  

CALIFORNIA BLM Studies Sage-Grouse Response to Treatments:   Monitoring the effectiveness of conservation work is an important component of habitat improvement. Over the last decade, thousands of acres of sagebrush habitat have been treated to benefit the sage-grouse in northeastern California and northwestern Nevada. Treatment methods include removing juniper, mowing, and over-seeding. While visual inspections of the habitat may indicate a recovered landscape, without data on sage-grouse locations and habitat use, it is impossible to know if treatments actually are benefiting the grouse. Today, the BLM and its partners are surveying known sage-grouse lek sites to determine the effectiveness of past treatments. Understanding how the grouse respond to vegetation treatments will enable the BLM to modify future treatments for the most cost effective means of conserving sage-grouse. Partners in this project include the California Department of Fish and Game, Nevada Division of Wildlife and local sage-grouse working groups; the project is also supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service and local county and city governments.

Collaring a sage-grouse for nesting study.  BLM photo.  

IDAHO BLM Sage-Grouse Lek and Winter Survey:  The majority of public lands administered by the BLM’s Challis, Idaho, Field Office are identified as "key" greater sage-grouse habitat. Although there are more than 30 identified lek sites within this area, sage-grouse seasonal use areas are generally unknown and can be inaccessible due to snow cover or terrain. The BLM and Idaho Fish & Game Department are using low-level flights by fixed-wing aircraft to monitor radio collared grouse. This will help identify the location and condition of nesting and winter habitat as well as reproductive success and brood survivability. This project will help the BLM and its partners continue to protect critical sage-grouse use areas. Partners include the Idaho Fish and Game Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Challis Sage Grouse Local Working Group.


UTAH BLM Sage-Grouse Monitoring in Hamlin Valley : Lek counts in southwestern Utah indicate that sage-grouse have been declining on and near lands administered by the BLM’s Cedar City, Field Office since 1993. Although the area is a stronghold for sage-grouse, there is little data on habitat use. To obtain more information, the BLM is capturing, radio-collaring, and tracking sage-grouse in portions of the Hamlin Valley watershed. The data will be used to map seasonal sage-grouse habitat use and movement patterns in southwestern Utah and eastern Nevada. This will help managers coordinate habitat restoration projects that target important sage-grouse brooding and wintering areas. Partners include Southern Utah University, Utah State University Extension Service, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, local landowners, and local and national sportsmen groups (Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation).

UTAH BLM Modifying Fences in Sage-Grouse Habitat : The BLM’s Cedar City Field Office is modifying fences to lessen impacts to sage-grouse and other wildlife. Simple modifications can dramatically increase the visibility of fences, avoiding collisions that can injure and even kill grouse and other wildlife. Priority is placed on fence modification near leks or other important wildlife concentration areas. About 160 miles of fence are within 2 miles or less of known crucial breeding grounds for sage-grouse. Barbed wire fences are marked with small strips of vinyl siding and high quality reflective tape to increase visibility. This project is supported by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Southwest Desert Adaptive Resource Management Local Working Group, and Utah State University.


WYOMING BLM Sage-Grouse Population Connectivity and Genetics: Analyzing DNA from more than 2,000 sage-grouse feathers collected all over the State of Wyoming, researchers are delineating breeding populations and establishing the relatedness among sage-grouse populations (i.e., extent of interbreeding) throughout the State. The study will help determine where genetic connectivity is strongest and/or most imperiled by fragmentation or physical topography. This information will be combined with information from seasonal habitat selection models under development by the USGS and sagebrush habitat location and density maps under development by the State of Wyoming. Combining the three data sets will provide an unprecedented understanding of Wyoming sage-grouse populations, habitat use, and habitat connectivity. Decision makers can then use this data to design and implement conservation strategies targeted to key sage-grouse populations, seasonal habitat areas and important habitat corridors throughout the eastern range of the species. Partners include the State of Wyoming, United States Geological Survey (USGS), Colorado State University, and local sage-grouse working groups. The BLM also is conducting similar work in Montana.

WYOMING BLM Monitoring Sage-Grouse Populations For Baseline Control:  Sage-grouse populations are impacted by human activities and by natural environmental factors (such as drought). By monitoring sage-grouse populations in “control” areas that do not face significant human-caused impacts, scientists can more accurately identify possible human-caused impacts on populations in “treatment” areas that do face human impact. A sage-grouse population near the town of Baroil in south central Wyoming is  providing such a “control”  reference.  The Baroil population has been studied since 2008, serving as an excellent barometer of environmental influences on sage-grouse populations in south and central Wyoming. The site, in Carbon County, has very few man-made features or impending human influences. Monitoring sage-grouse here is helping scientists determine whether any sudden declines or population spikes in "treatment" areas are the result of human influence or natural cycles. Partners include Wyoming Game and Fish, the University of Wyoming, and Colorado State University.