Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin
Photos: Jeanne Stafford/USFWS

The Bi-State Sage Grouse story...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received two petitions to list the Bi-State distinct population segment of the greater sage grouse, which was previously referred to as the Mono Basin population of sage-grouse, as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The first petition was received December 28, 2001 from the Institute for Wildlife Protection; the second petition was received on November 10, 2005 from the Stanford Law School Environmental Law Clinic on behalf of the Sagebrush Sea Campaign, Western Watersheds Project, Center for Biological Diversity and Christians Caring for Creation. In 2006, the Service published a 90-day finding that these petitions did not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions were warranted. In response to subsequent legal challenges, the Service agreed to reconsider the finding.

In March 2010, the Service determined that listing the DPS as a threatened or endangered species under the ESA was warranted but precluded by higher priority listing actions, and the species was added to the candidate species list. The Service committed to publishing the proposed listing and proposed critical habitat rule through a settlement agreement with WildEarth Guardians and Center for Biological Diversity. And in October 2013, the Service proposed listing the DPS as threatened under the ESA, as well as a proposed 4(d) rule with critical habitat.

The Service has worked collectively with members of the Bi-State Local Area Working Group (LAWG) and other partners for more than a decade to reduce impacts on sage-grouse habitat and populations, while also building on existing conservation efforts. (For a complete list of LAWG members, click here)

In June 2014, the Service received letters from members of the LAWG's Executive Oversight Committee, committing funding of $45 million for the implementation of the nearly 80 conservation projects outlined in the group's 2012 Bi-State Action Plan. Land use plan amendments were also formulated by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Department of Agriculture, which have been designed to reduce threats to the DPS and to facilitate implementation of the Bi-State Action Plan for the conservation of the sagebrush ecosystem. This funding and other assurances provided the confidence the Service needed in the LAWG and other partner agencies as proof that the proposed actions would, in fact, be accomplished throughout the next ten years, leading to the Service's withdrawal of the proposed listing, 4(d) rule and critical habitat.

Bi-State Sage-Grouse Update

  • Successful Conservation Partnership Keeps Bi-State Sage-Grouse Off Endangered Species List

    Partnership among California, Nevada, Federal Agencies, & Landowners Helped Conserve Key Habitat, Reduce Threats to Bird

    RENO, Nevada -- On the California-Nevada state line, a geographically distinct population of sage grouse once faced a precarious future. Today, that's changed, thanks in large part to the an unprecedented partnership effort by the federal and state agencies, along with the Bi-State Local Area Working Group and the proactive conservation efforts of private landowners.

    Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Sally Jewell, announces that the Bi-State population of greater sage grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act.
    Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Sally Jewell, announces that the Bi-State population of greater sage grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act. Photo: Jon Myatt/USFWS

    The decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the Bi-State sage grouse no longer needs protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) proves that diverse partners committed to a shared vision works to achieve wildlife conservation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proud of our partners whose proactive conservation efforts and support sustainable ranching and land management practices give this important bird species a brighter future.

    On Tuesday, April 21, 2015, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the Bi-State population of greater sage-grouse does not require the protection of the ESA.

    Secretary Jewell joined with USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird and other state and local partners to celebrate an extensive and long-term conservation partnership on behalf of the bistate greater sage-grouse population. Federal, state and private partners have come together to proactively conserve key habitat and significantly reduce long-term threats to this distinct population segment of greater sage-grouse.

    A key factor in the decision not to list the bird was the development of The Bi-State Action Plan, a conservation plan developed by partners in the Bi-State Local Area Working Group over the past 15 years and secured with $45 million in funding. This adds to nearly $30 million worth of conservation work USDA and other partners have already completed to implement this plan.

    "Thanks in large part to the extraordinary efforts of all the partners in the working group to address threats to greater sage-grouse and its habitat in the Bi-State area, our biologists have determined that this population no longer needs ESA protection," said Jewell. "What's more, the collaborative, science-based efforts in Nevada and California are proof that we can conserve sagebrush habitat across the West while we encourage sustainable economic development."

    "This is welcome news for all Nevadans. I applaud the local area working group, private citizens, Tribes, the Nevada Department of Wildlife and our federal partners for their tremendous efforts to develop conservation actions that preclude the need to list the species while still allowing for sustainable economic development," said Sandoval. "Today's announcement highlights the critical partnerships that must exist for our conservation strategies to be effective and demonstrate that sage grouse and economic development can coexist in both the bi-state area and across the range of the greater sage grouse."

    "Together, we've worked with ranchers, conservation groups, local governments in Nevada and California to take proactive steps to restore and enhance sage-grouse habitat while also helping them improve their ranching operations," Bonnie said. "The decision to not list the bi-state sagegrouse proves this work has paid off."

    "The efforts of the local working group and the partnerships they've built over the past decade are truly unprecedented," said Dan Ashe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director. "They have set the stage for the next generation of conservation and convinced us that the sage-grouse population has a bright future in the Bi-State region."

    "California is committed to continue working with our public and private partners in implementing this strong, science-based conservation plan into the future," said Laird. "This partnership between California and Nevada serves as a model for effective conservation of the Greater sage-grouse in other Western states."

    Read the full story...

Bi-State Sage Grouse Status and Species Information

  • Learn more about the conservation status of the Bi-State DPS of Greater Sage Grouse here.
  • SPECIES INFORMATION:

    SCIENTIFIC NAME: Centrocercus urophasianus

    COMMON NAME: Greater sage-grouse (Bi-State Distinct Population Segment)

    ANIMAL GROUP AND FAMILY: Birds, Phasianidae (pheasants, grouse, turkeys, and partridges)

    BI-STATE DPS SPECIES INFORMATION:

    The Bi-State Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of Greater Sage Grouse (GSG)(Centrocercus urophasianus) is a large, ground-dwelling bird, measuring up to 30 inches in length, is two feet tall, and weighs between two to seven pounds. It has a long, pointed tail with legs feathered to the base of the toes and fleshy yellow combs over the eyes. In addition to the mottled brown, black and white plumage typical of the species, males sport a white ruff around their necks. The sage-grouse is found from 4,000 to over 9,000 feet in elevation. It is an omnivore, eating soft plants (primarily sagebrush) and insects.



    HABITAT
    :

    Sage grouse depend on a variety of shrub steppe vegetation communities throughout their life cycle and are considered obligate users of several species of sagebrush including Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. Wyomingensis Beetle and Young (Wyoming big sagebrush), A. t. Nutt. ssp. vaseyana (Rydb.) Beetle (mountain big sagebrush), and A. t. Nutt. ssp. tridentata (basin big sagebrush). Sage-grouse also use other sagebrush species such as A. arbuscula Nutt. (little sagebrush), A. nova A. Nelson (black sagebrush), and A. cana Pursh (silver sagebrush).

Conservation Measures

  • Five Years of Significant Conservation Efforts Leads to Keeping Bi-State Sage Grouse Off Endangered List

    Prior to the Bi-State DPS becoming a candidate species in 2010, a variety of conservation initiatives were put in place to conserve the DPS and its habitat. The most significant initiative was the creation of the Nevada Governor's Sage Grouse Conservation Team in June 2002 who, in cooperation with local stakeholders (i.e., the Bi-State Local Area Working Group (LAWG)), developed the first edition of the Greater Sage Grouse Conservation Plan for the Bi-State area in 2004 to begin a cooperative effort to address threats to the Bi-State DPS and its habitat. The 2004 Action Plan served as the foundation for the conservation of the Bi-State DPS and its habitat. These efforts were later enhanced by both local- and national-level conservation strategies for sage-grouse conservation (including in the Bi-State area) associated with organizations including the Sage Grouse Initiative, and the Bi-State LAWG, the latter of which is specifically focused on Bi-State DPS conservation.

    In December 2011, the Bi-State Executive Oversight Committee (EOC) was formed to leverage collective resources and assemble the best technical support to achieve long-term conservation of the Bi-State DPS and its habitat. The EOC comprises resource agency representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Geological survey, Nevada Department of Wildlife, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Recognizing that conservation efforts were already underway by this point in time, the EOC directed a Bi-State Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), comprising technical experts/members from each agency, to summarize the conservation actions completed since 2004, and to develop a comprehensive set of strategies, objectives, and actions that would be effective for the long-term conservation of the Bi-State DPS and its habitat. These strategies, objectives, and actions are what comprise the 2012 Bi-State Action Plan (BSAP), which is actively being implemented by the signatory agencies as well as Mono County, California, who is committed to implementing all relevant actions within the county (which harbors the two core populations of the Bi-State DPS). In addition to the development of the BSAP and associated commitments provided by the EOC, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Carson City and Tonopah BLM Offices amended their Land Use Plans to more fully consider the conservation needs of the Bi-State DPS. The proposed rule (78 FR 64358) and the associated Species Report detail these conservation measures.

    Numerous conservation efforts outlined in the BSAP have already been implemented since the plan was signed between 2012 and the present. Conservation measures, such as (but not limited to) pinyon-juniper removal, establishment of conservation easements for critical brood-rearing habitat, cheatgrass removal, permanent and seasonal closure of roads near leks, removal and marking of fencing, and restoration of riparian/meadow habitat have been occurring over the past decade, are currently occurring, and have been prioritized and placed on the agency's implementation schedules for future implementation. Agencies have committed to remain participants and continue conservation of the DPS and its habitat. The BSAP has sufficient methods (i.e., science advisors, the Conservation Planning Tool, and a Science-based Adaptive Management Strategy) for determining the type and location of the most beneficial conservation actions to be implemented, including continued receipt of new population and threats information in the future that will guide conservation efforts.

    The Service anticipates that the partially completed and future conservation efforts, upon completion, will be effective to remove or reduce threats facing the bi-State DPS. We base this on past project effectiveness within the Bi-State area or within sagebrush habitat areas across the range of the greater sage-grouse, and documented effective methodologies for addressing the threats identified as impacting the Bi-State DPS.