More than 6,000 acres of sage-grouse habitat in Nevada are being protected and restored through the Wetland Reserve Program.
The land provides wet meadow habitat that is critical to the birds for brood-rearing and is located in the area surrounding Duck Lake, a terminal lake basin in northern Washoe County. Sage-grouse, migratory birds and other wildlife from Nevada, California and elsewhere in the West will benefit from the agreement between private landowners and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
"Sage-grouse and other wildlife species rely on private landowners, particularly in the agricultural community, who maintain large areas of intact meadows and sagebrush communities," said Bruce Petersen, Nevada NRCS state conservationist. "This agreement will ensure that the habitat will be available to wildlife for years to come."
Under the agreement, the landowners will restore and protect 6,296 acres of habitat located along the Pacific Flyway. The area has also been identified as an important bird conservation area by the Intermountain West Joint Venture in their Bird Habitat Conservation Plan. The NRCS in California worked with the landowners to identify the conservation measures that will be implemented, while the NRCS in Nevada prepared the financial agreement.
When property is enrolled in the program, the landowner retains ownership, while agreeing to restore and manage a certain portion of the land as wetlands. Program participants voluntarily restrict agricultural and other activities for compatibility with the wetland management, but retain title, quiet enjoyment, recreational uses, access control and water rights not necessary for wetland management.
Since 2011, four Nevada landowners have voluntarily enrolled almost 10,000 acres of wetlands for restoration through the program to benefit sage-grouse habitat.