Greater Sage-Grouse Part of Innovative Private Land Conservation to Benefit Agriculture and Wildlife
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is making available about $50 million this year in financial assistance to partner with agricultural producers who want to restore and protect habitat for seven focus species, including greater sage-grouse. Conservation efforts for sage grouse are part of Working Lands for Wildlife, an innovative partnership that supports struggling landscapes and strengthens agricultural operations.
“The decisions of agricultural producers can have significant impacts on wildlife,” said Ray Dotson, NRCS state conservationist in Nevada. “By managing land with sage grouse and other wildlife in mind, producers can benefit entire populations while also strengthening their agricultural operations
This year, NRCS will invest about $40 million on habitat restoration and protection for the sage grouse, the umbrella species of the sagebrush landscape. Conservation efforts to restore and protect sagebrush led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to determine in September that protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) were not warranted. Since 2010, NRCS and conservation partners have worked with ranchers to make conservation improvements to 4.4 million acres of sagebrush habitat, benefitting sage grouse and 350 other kinds of wildlife, including mule deer, elk, pronghorn and golden eagles.
With the support of conservation partners and ranchers, NRCS launched the Sage Grouse Initiative in 2010. Those efforts became the model for WLFW, which began two years later.
“Working Lands for Wildlife helps land managers integrate wildlife-friendly measures into their working lands and also ensures they can keep those lands working,” Dotson said.
Technical and financial assistance is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and Conservation Stewardship Program.
NRCS financial assistance covers part of the cost to implement conservation practices. Interested landowners are encouraged to contact their local USDA service center.