Greater Sage-Grouse - Montana

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With an estimated 18 percent of the total greater sage-grouse population and about 20 percent of the species occupied range in its borders, Montana is the northern-most stronghold for greater sage-grouse and is key to the species’ survival. The state’s greater sage-grouse also play an important role connecting with struggling populations to the north (Canada) and east (the Dakotas).

Unlike some western states, about two-thirds of Montana’s sage-grouse habitat is on non-federal land, and often occurs across a mixed, or “patchwork” distribution of private, State, and federal lands.  Consequently, management and cooperation that accommodate this mixed ownership distribution is of particular importance in Montana.  In Montana, disturbance related to energy development and infrastructure is a primary threat to greater sage-grouse.


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Lek Cam Offers Streaming Video of the Sage-Grouse Strut

Have you ever seen a sage-grouse strut? For the fourth straight year, you can witness the greater sage-grouse dancing to find a mate on a live-streaming wildlife camera. Located on a breeding ground called a lek, these birds puff out their chests and fan their tail feathers every morning from approximately 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. PDT. You can visit The Nature Conservancy’s website to watch live and recorded footage at

Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances finalized to to Benefit Landowners, Grassland Birds and Greater Sage-Grouse in Montana

A new, voluntary wildlife conservation opportunity designed with Montana ranchers in mind was finalized in early 2018.

The Montana Greater Sage-Grouse and Declining Grassland Songbirds Programmatic Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) and Environmental Assessment (EA) was finalized following a 30-day public review and comment period.

For additional information, contact the Field Supervisor for the Montana Ecological Services Field Office at 406-449-5225

Public Comment Invited on Proposal to Benefit Landowners, Grassland Birds and Greater Sage-Grouse in Montana

A new, voluntary wildlife conservation opportunity designed with Montana ranchers in mind is now open for public comment, and the benefits to five species of birds in need could be remarkable.

The draft Montana Greater Sage-Grouse and Declining Grassland Songbirds Programmatic Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) and draft Environmental Assessment (EA) is available for a 30-day public review and comment period.

To request further information or submit written comments, please use one of the following methods, and note that your information request or comments are in reference to the Montana Programmatic CCAA:

  • U.S. Mail: Field Supervisor, Montana Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 585 Shephard Way, Suite 1, Helena, MT 59601.
  • Email: Include "MT CCAA" in the subject line of the message.
  • Fax: 406-449-5339, Attn: MT CCAA.
  • In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Documents will be available for public inspection by appointment during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 585 Shephard Way, Suite 1, Helena, MT 59601.

For additional information, contact the Field Supervisor for the Montana Ecological Services Field Office at 406-449-5225. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please call the Federal Information Relay Service at 800–877–8339.

Building on the successful creation of plans and proven models to conserve sagebrush habitat for the Greater Sage-grouse, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Intermountain West Joint Venture (IWJV) have formalized a partnership effort to help maintain the West’s “sagebrush sea.”

Secretary Jewell Announces $10 Million for Projects to Increase Wildfire Resilience Across America and Calls on Congress to Fix Wildfire Suppression Fund

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

BOISE, ID – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced $10 million in funding to help increase the resiliency of critical landscapes across the country to better mitigate the impacts of wildfire and climate change. Read more »

2015 Endangered Species Act Finding

A status review conducted by the Service has found that the greater sage-grouse remains relatively abundant and well-distributed across the species’ 173-million acre range and does not face the risk of extinction now or in the foreseeable future.

The Service’s decision follows an unprecedented conservation partnership across the western United States that has significantly reduced threats to the greater sage-grouse across 90 percent of the species’ breeding habitat. The Service has determined that protection for the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act is no longer warranted and is withdrawing the species from the candidate species list. Visit the Federal Register to read the Service's "Not Warranted" finding here, or find a list of frequently asked questions and their answers here.

State data shows sage-grouse rebound

Monday, August 17, 2015

New research from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies suggests greater sage-grouse populations are strongly on the rebound after a period of cyclical decline. Numbers of this charismatic rangeland bird normally fluctuate by 30 to 40 percent in response to climatic conditions, so rapid increases like the one WAFWA documented between 2013 and 2015 are not unusual. WAFWA's population trend analysis, conducted with the most recent state monitoring data, suggests a minimum spring breeding population of 432,000 greater sage-grouse in 2015 and will be considered by the Service as part of its ESA status review. Read more »

Partners Put Conservation On the Ground

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

DENVER, CO - For more than a decade, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program has been working with landowners to improve key sage-grouse habitats on private property. Partners staff help develop grazing plans, improve wetlands and wet meadows, control invasive species and provide technical support for rangeland projects that also increase forage for big game herds and cattle operations in the Service's Mountain-Prairie, Pacific and Pacific-Southwest regions. More than 325 greater sage-grouse projects have been completed, improving 270,000 acres of uplands, 7,000 acres of wet meadows, and 131 miles of streams and rivers. Read more »

Fire is No Friend to Sage-Grouse

Friday, July 24, 2015

BOISE, ID - Within big sagebrush communities, cheatgrass-fueled changes in wildfire patterns have emerged as the greatest threat to sage-grouse, particularly in the Great Basin. Flammable grasses invite hotter, more frequent rangeland fires in a vicious cycle that fragments habitat, eliminates sagebrush, and displaces sage-grouse for decades or more. As fire season heats up across this drought-stricken region, Interior Department agencies have rolled out a new strategy that includes pre-positioned air tankers, equipment and crews to respond more quickly to ignitions to keep small fires from getting out of control. Help this habitat by taking extra precautions to avoid starting a fire that can burn grouse out of house and home. Read more »

Sage Grouse Initiative: Right Conservation, Right Place

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

MISSOULA, MT - In the past five years, the Sage Grouse Initiative has worked with more than 1,120 ranches to conserve more than 6,000 square miles of sage-grouse habitat in 11 western states. More than 75 percent of these acres lie in Priority Areas of Conservation designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This means these investments benefit large sage-grouse populations along with hundreds of other wildlife species, including economically important big game such as mule deer, pronghorn and elk. It's a recipe for success that's paying big dividends across the West.

This year, the USDA pledged to invest another $200 million in Farm Bill dollars to help make sure this remarkable venture continues through at least 2018. "Success on the Range," a new report by SGI, captures the big picture and explains how this new conservation paradigm is taking root. Read more »

Montana, USDA Ink Sage-Grouse Cooperative Agreement

Monday, July 20, 2015

HELENA, MT - An agreement signed today by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and the chief of the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service will streamline efforts to conserve privately owned working rangelands that provide habitat for sage grouse. “Almost two-thirds of Montana’s sage grouse habitat is on private lands, which is why voluntary, targeted conservation efforts are so critical,” said NRCS Chief Jason Weller. “The decisions Western ranchers and other private landowners make every day about what to do on their land will continue to have a critical impact on sage grouse.” Read more »

Poll Finds Wide Support for Federal Sage-Grouse Plans

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A new survey of rural Westerners found bipartisan majorities support new federal land use plans protecting greater sage-grouse habitat.  The poll, conducted by Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic polling firm Benenson Strategy Group, was commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Respondents were registered voters who live in counties with greater sage-grouse habitat in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington State, and Wyoming. Read more »

SGI: Reducing Sagebrush Conversion Benefits Grouse

Thursday, July 16, 2015

MISSOULA, MT - In the northeast part of greater sage-grouse range, 70 percent of the best habitat is privately owned – and sodbusting is the single greatest threat to grouse. New research from the University of Montana and The Nature Conservancy found that not only do lekking grouse avoid croplands, every 10 percent increase in crops results in a 50 percent decrease in lek density. "One landowner converting a single square mile into new cropland negatively impacts sage grouse in a landscape twelve times that size,” University of Montana Joe Smith said. The study suggested investing in conservation easements could reduce future losses to cropland. Read more »

Interior Funds Sagebrush Fire Protection Projects

Friday, June 12, 2015

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has announced $10 million in funding for projects aimed at restoring the health of tens of millions of acres of public land to improve its ability to withstand wildfire.The 2015 Wildfire Resilient Landscapes Program makes significant investments in protecting sagebrush landscapes, including Sheldon-Hart National Wildlife Refuge.Other projects will benefit greater sage-grouse in western Idaho, the Bi-State sage-grouse in California and Nevada, and the Gunnison sage-grouse in southwest Colorado. Read more »

Ranchers & Conservation Add Up

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Aldo Leopold once said, “Conservation will ultimately boil down to rewarding the private landowner who conserves the public interest.” Those words are powerful, especially in the West, where ranchers are partnering up to benefit sage grouse and the 350 other species that share its vast habitat.
“Stories from the Range”, a new report by the Sand County Foundation, highlights the accomplishments of ranchers working with local, state and federal partners to restore and protect 4.4 million acres of prime sage grouse habitat – an area of working lands twice the size of Yellowstone National Park.Read more »

BLM, USFS Release Sage-Grouse Conservation Plans

Thursday, May 28, 2015

CHEYENNE, WY – The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service released final land use plans for public lands in 10 western states that will help to conserve greater sage-grouse habitat and support continued economic development. The updated plans are central to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's review of the native grouse's "candidate" status under the Endangered Species Act, due Sept. 30, 2015. “We’re pleased that BLM and USFS recognize that strong, effective federal land management plans are vital for successful greater sage-grouse conservation and essential for the Service’s evaluation of whether the species still warrants federal protection," said Noreen Walsh, the Service's Mountain-Prairie Regional Director. Read more »

Nevada Project to Clear Way for Bi-State Sage-Grouse

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

RENO, NV – The East Walker Landscape Habitat Improvement Project calls for the removal of pinon and juniper trees in a 20,400-acre area located approximately 15 miles north of Bridgeport, California. The effort is part of the Bi-State Action Plan, a locally developed blueprint to provide for the long-term conservation of the Bi-State sage-grouse and its habitat. The project, in part, Nevada Department of Wildlife has committed to contributing $330,000 for projects such as this in the next year alone. Read more »

Colorado Ranch Easement Protects Sage-Grouse

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

KREMMLING, CO – The Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust recently conserved one of the state's most spectacular working ranches in the state's high country by completing a 995-acre conservation easement with the Yust family along the Colorado and Blue Rivers in Grand County. The easement will help conserve greater sage-grouse in Grand County. “The easement absolutely made this ranch more economically viable, and it will stay that way in the future whether we’re here or not,” said rancher Jay Yust.
Read more »

Oregon CCAAs Available Online

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

PORTLAND, OR – All landowners in the eight Eastern and Central Oregon counties with greater sage-grouse habitat are now eligible to enroll their property in a voluntary conservation program that would benefit the large prairie grouse. Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances reward good stewardship and help maintain conditions that benefit ranching operations while providing protection against future requests to protect the species. Enrolled landowners who abide by the terms of their CCAAs will face no additional regulatory measures if the bird is protected under the Endangered Species Act. Landowners in  Baker and Union Counties,  Crook and Deschutes Counties, Grant County, Lake County,  Malheur County and  Harney County are eligible to enroll in this program.
Read more »

Farm Bill Guide to Wildlife Conservation Available

Tuesday, April 29, 2015

MISSOULA, MT – A new guide to fish and wildlife conservation programs in the 2014 Farm Bill is now available to aid wildlife managers who work with landowners and ag producers to improve soil health, water quality, as well as fish and wildlife habitat on private land. Released by the Intermountain West Joint Venture and the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, this user-friendly guide provides an overview of the Conservation Title in the 2014 Farm Bill. “This guide can help our conservation partners and customers understand what programs are available – and how to make those programs work forhem.” said USDA Natural Resources and Environment Under Secretary Robert Bonnie.  Read more »

Oregon Lek Cam Goes Live!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

PORTLAND, OR – The sage grouse's strutting dance is one of North America's defining wildlife spectacles, and one that few Americans have ever seen. Now, a new live-streaming video offers the public a chance to see this amazing display without having to sneak out into the sagebrush in the frigid half-light before dawn. Instead,  the performance can now be enjoyed, coffee in hand, from the comfort of home by visiting: . Best viewing times are 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. PST Read more »

Service Withdraws Bi-State DPS Listing Proposal

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

RENO, NV – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it was withdrawing a proposal to list the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of greater sage-grouse as threatened because a locally developed conservation plan and $45 million in funding will address the major threats to the species. The full decision can be found in the Federal Register. Read more »

Another 2.3 Million Acres in Oregon Eligible for CCAAs

Friday, March 27, 2015

BEND, Ore. - Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Oregon Governor Kate Brown and U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Ann Mills to announce that all landowners in the eight Eastern and Central Oregon counties with greater sage-grouse habitat are now eligible to enroll their property in a voluntary conservation program that would benefit the large prairie grouse and provide assurances that no additional regulatory measures will be required if the bird is protected under the Endangered Species Act. Read more »

First Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Bank Launched

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

CHEYENNE, WY - Senior officials from the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined Wyoming Governor Matt Mead today in announcing the launch of the nation’s first conservation bank for greater sage-grouse. The Sweetwater River Conservancy will manage a vast expanse of central Wyoming for sage-grouse, mule deer and other wildlife, allowing energy development and other economic activities to proceed on lands elsewhere in the state. Read more »

SGI Report Highlights Five Years of Conservation Success

Thursday, February 12, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today issued a report showing that since 2010 USDA and its partners in the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) have worked with private landowners to restore 4.4 million acres of habitat for sage-grouse while maintaining working landscapes across the West.

"American ranchers are working with us to help sage-grouse because they know they are helping an at-risk bird while also improving the food available for their livestock," said Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie said.. "As the saying goes, 'What's good for the bird is good for the herd.'" USDA also announced that,it will commit another $200 million to sage-grouse conservation work over the next four years.Read more»

Protecting Sage-Grouse in Harney County, Oregon

Thursday, February 12, 2015

HARNEY COUNTY, OR- In 2014, ranchers in Harney County, Oregon, signed a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve more than one million acres of private rangelands to protect the greater sage-grouse and its sagebrush habitat. Two more upcoming agreements will put all non-federal sage-grouse habitat in Oregon into voluntary protection that will offer protections for both the bird and ranchers.Watch video »

WAFWA: Fire, Fuels Key to Grouse Conservation

Friday, January 29, 2015

CHEYENNE, WY- Feedback cycles between invasive species and large intense wildfires effectively fragment habitats, reduce sagebrush cover, and create fire-prone landscape conditions detrimental to sage-grouse. Because fire knows no political boundaries, its management is a coordinated effort among federal, state, tribal and local agencies. A new WAFWA report examines the type and responsiveness of efforts at the federal, state and local level, and presents a series of recommendations to inform future policy and allocation decisions. Read more »

Oregon Cattlemen Back "Salt Tax" for Grouse Conservation

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

ONTARIO, OR- The Oregon Cattlemen's Association is lending its support to an innovative way to raise money to conserve habitat for sagebrush species, including the greater sage-grouse. The Argus Observer reports that the Cattlemen recently agreed to back legislation that would establish a tax on salt, with the proceeds dedicated to sagebrush conservation. Incoming president John O'Keeffe of Adel explained the suggested salt tax would be 1.75 cents per pound of salt content in animal feeds and would raise about $400,000 dollars. The paper reported that the Audubon Society is working on a bird seed tax, which would go to the same dedicated fund.
Read more »

Interior Secretary Announces Rangeland Fire Strategy

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC - Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has issued a Secretarial Order calling for a comprehensive science-based strategy to address the more frequent and intense wildfires that are damaging vital sagebrush landscapes and productive rangelands, particularly in the Great Basin region of Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and California.The order establishes a Task Force to work with federal agencies, states, tribes and other partners to protect and restore sagebrush threatened by rangeland fires.
Read more »

Service: Grouse Conservation Data Needed

Monday, December 22, 2014

DENVER, CO- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is shifting from data collection to data analysis as it proceeds toward a September 30, 2015 decision about whether the greater sage-grouse still deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act. To ensure the Service has the best available information, officials to submit documentation over the next month pertaining to the many conservation efforts that have been completed or are underway to benefit the species.
Read more »

Study: Grass Height Influences Nest Success

Saturday, December 19, 2014

DENVER, CO- Greater sage-grouse hens that nest in taller grass have better odds of success, at least in northeast Wyoming and neighboring Montana, according to a new study recently published in the journal Wildlife Biology. The study's was not designed to evaluate the relationship between grazing and successful nesting, but provided the foundation for three ongoing studies that will. Findings apply to the study area of northeastern Wyoming and adjacent Montana.
Read more »

"Full Steam Ahead" With Sage-Grouse Conservation

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

WASHINGTON DC - An appropriations rider that prohibits the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from proposing an endangered species listing will not interfere with other ongoing sage-grouse conservation efforts, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Landowners said today. “We are more determined than ever to work with the states, ranchers, energy developers and other stakeholders who are putting effective conservation measures in place with the shared goal of reaching a ‘not warranted’ determination by the end of the fiscal year.”
Read more »

Oregon Landowners Can Protect Grouse, Livelihoods

Tuesday, December 3, 2014

PORTLAND, OR - Landowners in Oregon counties with greater sage-grouse will soon have the opportunity to proactively protect their agricultural operations while furthering conservation for this flagship sagebrush species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a multi-county agreement in the Federal Register that could protect more than two million acres of sage-grouse habitat in eastern Oregon. More than 40 landowners have already expressed an interest in enrolling.
Read more »

Masini Ranch an Oasis for Sage-Grouse

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

YERINGTON, NV - South of the Lake Tahoe region in Nevada, the Masini Family raises 2,000 yearlings on an irrigated cattle ranch under the shadow of the Sweetwater Mountains. Their property is literally an oasis in the desert, surrounded by hundreds of square miles of rangeland, meaning it’s a big draw for wildlife and sage grouse.

Read more »

Nature Gives Pyron That "Little Kid" Feeling

Thursday, November 5, 2014

BOISE, ID - Jason Pyron, Sage-Grouse Coordinator for the Idaho Fish & Wildlife Office in Boise, found inspiration for working with young people close to home. Pyron's mother was a teacher and education administrator and she passed on the joy of watching youngsters experience something spectacular in nature for the first time. "The future of our wild landscapes and the wildlife that inhabits them depends on young people caring," he says. "

Read more »

What's Good for the Bird is Also Good For Hunters

Sunday, November 2, 2014

PORTLAND, OR- While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works to determine if the greater sage grouse should be listed under the Endangered Species Act, it's important to recognize that this decision is about much more than protecting the bird. It's about protecting both an iconic landscape and a way of life in the West, including jobs, businesses and recreational opportunities.
Read more »

Secretary Jewell Commends Ranchers for Conservation

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

PINEDALE, WY - Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe and local officials on Oct. 15 to recognize the efforts of private Wyoming landowners in conserving the landscape of the American West at a ceremonial signing of nine long-term protection plans for sagebrush habitat – the first of their kind in Wyoming.The ceremony in the Upper Green River Valley, highlighted the leadership of the ranching community and the state of Wyoming in advancing sagebrush protection that benefits both wildlife and future generations of ranchers.
Read more »

Greater Sage-Grouse Decision Framework

Thursday, October 2, 2014

DENVER, CO - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Mountain-Prairie Region hosted a webinar today to help federal and state partners and other interested groups better understand the Endangered Species Act and the decision framework for the greater sage-grouse status review process. Presentations on Section 4 of the Act, on the Distinct Population Segment policy, the revised Significant Portion of Range policy, the Policy for Evaluating Conservation Efforts and the overview of the status review are posted under the Endangered Species Act section of our Resources page.
Read more »

Good for the bird, good for the (deer) herd

Monday, September 29, 2014

LANDER, WY - New research reveals that sage-grouse conservation has effectively doubled protection of mule deer migration corridors in the Green River Basin. This is the first study to quantify how migratory mule deer benefit from grouse conservation measures, including Wyoming’s sage grouse “core area” policy and conservation easements.The research was funded in large part by the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Sage Grouse Initiative, with additional funding from the Knobloch Family Foundation, Kaplan Family Foundation and Mule Deer Foundation.
Read more »

Private Lands Key to Sage-Grouse Success

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

MISSOULA, MT - A new study by top sage-grouse researchers underscores the importance of wet meadows and riparian areas on private lands to the success of breeding sage-grouse. Analyzing 28 years of data, lead researcher Patrick Donnelly, a researcher with with Intermountain West Joint Venture, found that while 80 percent of upland nesting sites are on public land, 80 percent of critical summer brood habitat is on private land. Wet meadows provide the cover and insects grouse chicks need to mature.
Read more »

Montana Gov. Bullock Signs Sage-Grouse Order

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

HELENA, MT - Gov. Steve Bullock today signed an executive order establishing a state program to protect sage-grouse habitat while respecting Montanans' private property rights. Bullock also said his budget will include a proposal for a Sage Grouse Stewardship and Conservation Fund to support voluntary, inventive-based private land practices to conserve sage-grouse habitat.
Read more »

Sage-Grouse Mitigation Guidance Now Available

Thursday, September 4, 2014

DENVER, CO- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a new tool to help ensure that mitigation plans developed by agencies and others pursuing development near greater sage-grouse are consistent and effective in protecting the ground-dwelling bird’s sagebrush habitat. The Framework provides recommendations on mitigation standards and sideboards that can be used to guide the development of compensatory mitigation practices and programs.
Read more »

Service Seeking Greater Sage-Grouse Data

Monday, August 11, 2014

DENVER, CO- The Service is initiating its formal status review of the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act by requesting information from a broad array of state and federal agencies and tribes, along with industry and local conservation partners, about the ground-dwelling bird’s population and efforts to protect its sagebrush habitat.
Read more »

Service Reopens Bi-State DPS Comment Period

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Service has reopened the public comment period for the proposed rule to list the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of the greater sage-grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. New information on population trends and recent funding commitments from state and federal agencies prompted the decision to seek additional input.
Read more »

Webinar: Mapping Wet Meadows for Grouse

Friday, July 25, 2014

Wet meadows and other moist sites account for less than 2 percent of the landscape, but they're critically important seasonal habitats for sage-grouse. To better help managers manage these important habitats, Sage Grouse Initiative and the Intermountain West Joint Venture have mapped these "mesic" resources. A webinar on August 6 will explain how to apply this new tool.
Read more »

BLM Puts Focus on Fire

Monday July 18, 2014

The Bureau of Land Management is making sage-grouse habitat protection a high natural resource priority, focusing its hazardous fuels program on areas where fire management for sage-grouse habitat protection is most critical. These areas are primarily located in priority habitat in the Great Basin states with the highest probability of wildfire occurrence.
Read more »

Sex, Leks and Videotape

Weds, July 9, 2014

Perhaps the most scrutinized love live since Don Juan's is getting a closer look from a researcher who married robotic technology to some feathery primping and thrown in a wireless video camera. The hen-bot was created by Gail Patricelli, an associate processor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology at the University of California Davis, whose work is profiled in this Grand Junction Daily Sentinel article by reporter Gary Harmon.
Read more »


Shed feathers promise new insights into sage-grouse populations

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Feathers fly each spring when male greater sage-grouse square off on the lek. The lost plumage matters little to the males, but the genetic material in their feathers will give researchers new insights into the secret lives of these iconic sagebrush dwellers. This spring, researchers began collecting feathers from more than 7,000 leks spread across 11 Western states and two Canadian provinces. The data will greatly improve our knowledge of sage-grouse genetics across the bird's 259,000 square-mile range. Movement patterns and population structures revealed by the study will help land use managers identify critically important habitat and promising areas for restoration.
Read more »


BLM finalizes Lander Resource Management Plan

Thursday June 26, 2014

CHEYENNE, WY- Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Neil Kornze and Wyoming Governor Matt Mead today announced the final approval of a comprehensive management plan for public lands in central Wyoming. The Lander Resource Management Plan updates a nearly 30-year old document and is the first of the BLM’s resource management plans to address management of important greater sage-grouse habitat. Ninety-nine percent of the Lander area is habitat for the species and 70 percent of the planning area is identified as priority habitat warranting special protection.

Read more »


USDA announces $25 million commitment for Bi-State grouse conservation

Friday June 20, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a groundbreaking new commitment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to accelerate and focus conservation efforts for the Bi-State population of greater sage-grouse that will help landowners implement a range of conservation actions in California and Nevada over the next five to 10 years that are designed to avert a listing of this distinct population segment. The Bureau of Land Management also announced a 10-year, $6.5 million commitment to improve grouse habitat on land that it manages.

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Science on parade as sage-grouse researchers flock to Elko

Thursday June 19, 2014

ELKO, NV- Fearscapes, hen-bots, cryogenically cooled thermal imagers and a host of other state-of-the-art research projects drew the nation's top greater sage-grouse experts to northeastern Nevada for the 29th Western Agencies Sage and Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse Workshop June 16-19. The conference featured two days of presentations on the latest developments in grouse conservation sandwiched around a tour of northeastern Nevada's sagebrush country.

Read more »

Forest Service adapts to save North Dakota sage-grouse

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The U.S. Forest Service will prepare an environmental impact statement that evaluates changes to the land and resource management plan for the Little Missouri National Grassland in western North Dakota. At just over 1 million acres, the Little Missouri National Grassland is the largest in the federal system and contains some of North Dakota's best remaining sage-grouse habitat. The agency expects to complete a draft EIS by November and the final EIS by June 2015.

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Oregon ranchers embrace opportunity to conserve grouse

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

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.

Read more »

Workshop touts benefits of partnerships in grouse conservation

Monday, May 12th, 2014

TWIN FALLS, ID – A workshop hosted by the Sage Grouse Initiative gave state ranchers an opportunity to learn how working together to protect sage-grouse produces results for their bottom lines.

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State study finds more grouse on grazed lands

Wednesday, May 8th, 2014

A four-year study by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has found that sage-grouse survival increased on study plots occupied by cattle compared with empty sagebrush. The study found nesting success and brood survival was higher in pastures with livestock. The study was conducted in southeast Montana, where many traditional landowners have maintained large expanses of intact sagebrush habitat.

Read more »

Sage-grouse conservation efforts huge

Wednesday, May 8th, 2014

Knowing that the 1993 listing of the spotted owl as a threatened species hurt the logging industry, ranchers are getting aboard efforts to head off a potential Endangered Species Act listing of the greater sage-grouse.

The chicken-sized bird found in 11 Western states has been in decline over the past century because of the loss of sagebrush.

Read more »

Western Governors Defend Their Efforts to Protect the Sage-Grouse

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

In a recent letter to Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell, the governors offered their third inventory of programs and initiatives that the states are undertaking to preserve the potentially threatened birds.

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Feds spent $77 million to protect sage-grouse in Wyoming since 2010

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

CASPER, WY — Wyoming landowners received nearly $77 million in federal funding during the last three years in exchange for conserving more than 1 million acres to protect greater sage-grouse, recently released government figures show. Under the initiative, the NRCS distributes funding to landowners through a variety of conservation programs. Landowners, in return, agree to place conservation easements or implement environmentally responsible land management practices on their properties.

The release of the NRCS figures came at the request of the Western Governors’ Association, a nonpartisan organization that advocates on behalf of governors in 19 western states.

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Sage-grouse counts remain low

Monday, April 28th, 2014

BISMARK, ND - Results from North Dakota’s spring sage-grouse survey indicate the number of strutting males remains well below management objectives. Therefore, the sage-grouse hunting season will remain closed in 2014. North Dakota Game and Fish Department biologists counted a record low 31 males on six active strutting grounds. Last year, 50 males were counted on 11 active leks in the southwest.

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Carbon County Ranch receives 2014 Leopold Award

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

CHEYENNE, WY - Since 1881, six generations of one Wyoming family have operated the Ladder Ranch in the shadow of Battle Mountain. The ranch raises cattle and sheep on holdings that extend south into Colorado, and provides a home for abundant populations of native trout, big game and sage-grouse. "We have always believed there is no inherent contradiction between production and conservation," said rancher Pat O'Toole. The Ladder Ranch is this year's recipient of the Sand County Foundation's Leopold Award for 2014.
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Comment period extended for bi-state population of greater sage-grouse

April, 7th, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC - The US Fish & Wildlife Service has announced a 60-day extension of the public comment period on the proposal to protect the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of the greater sage-grouse as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.  The listing proposal designates approximately 1.86 million acres of critical habitat for the species and includes a special rule that would provide increased flexibility for land management practices that are intended to benefit the sage-grouse.

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Funding to help Washington ranchers rest pastures for grouse

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Ranchers in parts of central and eastern Washington may be eligible to receive financial assistance to help protect sage-grouse habitat and improve range conditions for their livestock. Through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Sage Grouse Initiative and the Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) initiative, ranchers have options available for existing grazed ranchlands and expired CRP lands. The initiative is limited to sage-grouse habitat areas of central and eastern Washington.

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New WGA Sage-Grouse Inventory details conservation work in 11 Western states

March, 18th, 2014

In a recent letter to Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell, western governors offered their third inventory of programs and initiatives that the states are undertaking to preserve greater sage-grouse populations.

Related Content

Letter from Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper
Inventory of State and Local Governments’ Conservation Initiatives for Sage-Grouse
Special Report to the Western Governors

State submits comments to BLM and Forest Service

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

PORTLAND, OR - Governor John Kitzhaber’s top natural resource official urged the Bureau of Land Management to strengthen protections for greater sage-grouse in the final Resource Management Plan to help keep the bird off of the Endangered Species List in comments submitted to the federal agency.

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Fish & Wildlife Service comments on Oregon RMP

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

PORTLAND, OR - The Bureau of Land Management’s preferred alternative for updating protections for greater sage-grouse in its draft Resource Management Plan represents a “meaningful improvement” over current management plans, said Paul Henson, supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Portland office. However, Henson encouraged his federal counterparts strengthen protections in several areas and clarify how much disturbance the agency would allow in the 70 percent of state-occupied sage-grouse range that the BLM manages.

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Governor urges BLM to consider Colorado grouse plan

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

DENVER, CO - Governor John Hickenlooper has asked the Bureau of Land management to consider an alternative state-based approach to protecting greater sage-grouse as the federal agency finalizes its Resource Management Plan for northwestern Colorado. The Governor asked the BLM to factor in progress made by public and private partnerships on state and private lands as it considers new protections for grouse on federal land administered by the agency. A copy of the letter can be found here.

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South Dakota rancher improves prime sage-grouse habitat

Wednesday, October 1st, 2013

BUFFALO, SD – Rancher Joe Painter credits his grandfather’s love of wildlife as the inspiration for Painter’s decision to improve habitat for sage-grouse on more than 13,000 acres of his wind-swept ranch in recent years. With assistance from the Sage Grouse Initiative, a partnership funded by Natural Resources Conservation Service, Painter joined more than 700 ranchers who have voluntarily enrolled in grazing improvements, conservation easements and conifer removal projects across 11 western states. All are part of the SGI partnership, launched in 2010 to proactively conserve a species that has lost half its historic range.

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The 11 states in the greater sage-grouse’s range are working hard to get as much conservation on the ground and as many protections in place as possible before the September 2015 ESA listing deadline. If you are interested in sharing information about sage-grouse conservation efforts in your state, please contact Serena Baker

Greater Sage-Grouse.  Credit: USFWS.

Why care about sagebrush?

Sagebrush country may look empty, but it's home to important wildlife and other natural resources. Learn more.

Greater Sage-Grouse distribution map. Credit: USFWS.


Learn more about the new Sagebrush Ecosystem Curriculum project.

Greater Sage-Grouse in field. Credit: USFWS.

Conservation Partners

Sage-grouse conservation happens on the ground. Learn more about what our partners are doing here.