$8 million for sage-grouse conservation | RecordCourier.com

$8 million for sage-grouse conservation

Staff Reports

An $8 million fund to support initiatives conserving California and Nevada's population of greater sage grouse and enhancing ranch water quality in the region has been created by the USDA's Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

Sage-grouse thrive in open areas with abundant sagebrush, native grasses and wet meadows — a landscape known as a sagebrush ecosystem — frequently found on working ranches. The program will ensure that sage-grouse, along with other wildlife species that rely on the sagebrush ecosystem, will continue to exist on ranch lands for years to come. This funding is available to landowners along the California-Nevada border.

Eastern Sierra Land Trust, a local nonprofit organization, spearheaded the funding request with 10 other national, state, regional and private partners.

"Clean water and ranch stewardship are priorities that span state and party lines, and the Bi-State demonstrates that spirit of collaboration. This award is an affirmation of the work we are doing together and the power of partnership," said Susanna Danner, land conservation program director for the trust.

The program is a new and highly-competitive program created in the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The program is one of only 88 nationwide to receive funding. The Bi-State Local Area Working Group, composed of ranchers, conservationists, private organizations, state and local officials and public land managers, formed in 2002 to conserve sage-grouse habitat and protect rangeland health. In 2015 the group played a pivotal role in keeping the Bi-State population of greater sage-grouse off the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's list of endangered species. "This is an outstanding example of what can be achieved when people come together with a focus on solving a problem by harmonizing the diverse interests of all those involved," said Eastern Sierra Audubon Society Conservation Chair Pete Pumphrey.