Overview of the issue
The TRCP has been on the front lines of sage grouse conservation for several years and in 2015 it was no different with an epic collaborative conservation effort deciding the fate of the greater sage grouse—an iconic game bird of the American West, whose decline indicates that sagebrush habitat is in trouble. Sagebrush ecosystems are home to more than 350 different species of plants and animals, including such iconic game species as pronghorn antelope and mule deer. Perhaps the clearest indicator of success occurred when Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced on September 22, 2015, that Endangered Species Act protection for the bird’s range-wide population was not warranted.
In order to reach this landmark decision, federal agencies committed to conserving more than 67 million acres of sagebrush habitat on public land, while 11 Western states developed complementary conservation plans for the bird’s increasingly fragmented range. The National Resources Conservation Service also initiated its Sage Grouse Initiative in 2010, and to date has enrolled more than 1,300 ranches and contributed nearly a half a billion dollars in voluntary programs that benefit sage grouse and working landscapes across more than 5 million acres of private land.
Through effective activation of our grassroots network, the TRCP and its partners effectively bolstered this multi-pronged approach to sage grouse conservation. We were strategically engaged with outdoor and national media hungry for grouse information. We also helped stop Congressional opponents from derailing the process. Finally, we successfully advocated for strong agency funding to implement critical conservation plans.
But now these plans are being reviewed by the Trump administration, possibly with an eye toward changes that would allow energy development to dominate the landscape. Watch the video to learn more.
Why does TRCP care?
Most sportsmen don’t think much about sage grouse, but think about it this way – the fact that a once common, widely distributed and liberally harvest game bird even had to be considered for listing under the ESA should concern all sportsmen. Also, the sagebrush sea is home to so many species we love to pursue – pronghorn, mule deer, elk and sage grouse. Conservation efforts for sage grouse will act as an umbrella and help conserve these and other species across 11 western states.