The Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) announced today that at-risk songbirds may benefit from sage-grouse habitat restoration efforts.
Brewer’s sparrow and green-tailed towhee populations grew after conifers were removed from sagebrush habitat. The birds are considered species of concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Pinyon juniper trees have been encroaching for decades into lower-elevation sagebrush lands, which threatens the stability of sage-grouse habitat and population.
According to a statement issued today, a “study shows that three years following the removal of invading conifers in a project area in southern Oregon, the number of Brewer’s sparrows increased by 55 percent, while the number of green-tailed towhees increased by 81 percent, as compared with sites not restored.”
“This research shows that the comprehensive sagebrush conservation efforts, which are strengthening operations on working lands across the West, have benefits for all the wildlife that depend on the ecosystem, not just sage grouse,” said Jason Weller, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “The Sage Grouse Initiative continues to demonstrate that by working together, we can deliver conservation that is good for wildlife, good for ranching operations and good for rural economies across the West.”
NRCS and SGI have been working to remove invading confers from sage-grouse habitat. Since 2010, ranchers have restored 400,000 acres of sagebrush habitat, according to NRCS. The efforts are part of federal, state and private rancher collaborations designed to conserve Great Basin rangelands and enhance sage grouse habitat.