|Steve Abele. Photo credit: USFWS|
We check in this week with some of the folks working to conserve the greater sage-grouse, its habitat and an American landscape. Steve Abele is a wildlife biologist in our Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office in Reno. He writes: “While my mom may still think that I wrestle alligators, on any given day I do what I did when I was in kindergarten. I talk to people, read a little, write a little and do some math.” Only now, he is doing them in the name of conservation.
5 Questions for Steve
1. In the conservation world, we hear a lot about the need to do “landscape conservation.” What does that mean to you?
To me, landscape conservation means thinking about the bigger picture – not simply focusing on an acre of land here or an acre of land over there, but considering how those individual acres are related to one another. It means thinking about how processes, such as fire and water, move across a landscape and how these interconnected acres are viewed through the eyes of animals that rely on them. Greater sage-grouse are a nice example here. Over the course of a year, the species selects variation in what often appears to be a homogeneous sagebrush sea. Seeking out slightly different habitat features fulfills a seasonal need and may help them successfully navigate a year of challenges. Aldo Leopold once wrote “The first rule of an intelligent tinkerer is to keep all of the pieces” (The Round River). In my mind, this graceful sentence captures the big picture concept. Before we reach a conclusion as to the value of any specific acre of land, we need to ask ourselves how this piece fits into the whole.