Private landowners ready to enroll in program to benefit wildlife, protect ranchers’ future.
PORTLAND, OR – Oregon ranchers are embracing an opportunity to further conservation for the greater sage-grouse while working together with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Harney Soil and Water Conservation District.
Today, the Service and the SWCD will enter into a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances, or CCAA, as part of ongoing efforts toward conservation of greater sage-grouse. In a CCAA, landowners voluntarily agree to manage their lands to remove or reduce threats to a species. In return, landowners receive assurances against additional regulatory requirements should that species ever be listed under the Endangered Species Act.
“As a rancher, I am excited that the Harney Soil and Water Conservation District and leaders of Harney County worked with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to develop a tool that can help preserve the cultural and economic activities of our rural communities while meeting the habitat needs of sage-grouse,” said Stacy Davies, manager of Roaring Springs Ranch. “The CCAA gives landowners an opportunity to maintain grazing and other traditional agricultural uses on their land and protect those uses should an ESA listing occur.”
Added Robyn Thorson, the Service’s Pacific Region Director: “Teaming with private landowners is an essential part of protecting this country’s unique species. This partnership is a prime example of how we can effectively work together to develop sufficient protections for the greater sage-grouse while at the same time protecting the future of an important economic driver in Oregon. This is a huge win-win for everybody involved.”
This CCAA covers more than 1 million acres of private rangelands within the range of greater sage-grouse in Harney County, Oregon. Private landowners collectively owning 250,000 acres have committed to enroll and seven other Oregon counties are pursuing CCAAs of their own. These agreements have the potential to conserve the majority of greater sage-grouse habitat on private lands in Oregon.