Overview of the issue
The TRCP has been on the front lines of sage grouse conservation for years. The decline of this iconic game bird of the American West indicates that sagebrush habitat is in trouble, and we care because 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.
Through effective activation of our grassroots network, the TRCP and its partners have bolstered the multi-pronged approach to sage grouse conservation that has kept the bird off the Endangered Species list. 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 the future of these plans is in limbo. For a refresher on how we got here, scroll through our timeline of sage grouse conservation milestones.
A History of Sage Grouse Conservation in the U.S.
Why does TRCP care?
The fact that a once common, widely distributed and liberally harvested game bird even had to be considered for listing under the ESA should concern all sportsmen and women. Also, the sagebrush sea is home to so many species we love to pursue – pronghorn, mule deer, elk and sage grouse. It plays a role in the region’s vibrant rural economy, way of life, and outdoor recreation opportunities.
The long-term future of sage grouse and the sagebrush ecosystem is still being shaped by the decisions we make today. Continued habitat loss and degradation, combined with the uncertainty of conservation plans that face political and legal challenges, do not bode well for the species or people that depend on the sagebrush sea. Leadership, adequate funding, and strong policies–for implementation of federal and state plans and continued private lands conservation programs–are all vital.
We cannot waver or be short-sighted. Conservation efforts for sage grouse will act as an umbrella and help conserve not just the 350 species of plants and animals across 11 western states, but also a sustainable and prosperous future for the West.