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Greater sage-grouse Research

Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Advance sage-grouse conservation through funding for science projects

Photo of a Greater Sage-Grouse. Credit: USFWS.

The Western Association of Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) have collaborated to fund four projects to address threats and improve the scientific basis for Greater sage-grouse management. These projects also seek to improve coordination between western states and the Service in relation to sage-grouse management. Although states are responsible for managing the species the bird’s habitat is largely on federal lands.

WAFWA administered solicitation of proposals and engaged the western states and Landscape Conservation Cooperatives to help evaluate proposals. This is the first time that a landscape-scale, highly collaborative process has been used to solicit science-based proposals to further sage-grouse management. This has been an exciting development, as evidenced by the broad range of proposals received from a diverse group of state, federal, University and NGO scientists that address myriad issues facing sage-grouse.

Project Information

The four projects chosen for funding were selected from forty-two submitted proposals because they were judged most likely to impact sage-grouse conservation at landscape scales. The selected projects are:


Project Title

Dr. Paul Lukacs
University of Montana
$ 147,177

Range-wide sampling design for population size and trend estimation in greater sage-grouse.

Dr. David Naugle
SGI and U of MT
$ 150,000

Sage-grouse hate trees: A range-wide solution for increasing bird benefits through accelerated conifer removal.

Dr. Louis Provencher
The Nature Conservancy
$ 99,938

Designing regional fuel breaks to protect large remnant tracts of sage-grouse habitat in NV, ID, OR, and UT

Mike Gregg
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
$ 62,740

Using cheatgrass suppressive soil bacteria to break the fire cycle and proactively maintain greater sage-grouse habitats.

Collectively, these projects leverage almost $800,000 in partner funding from the Joint Fire Science Program, Bureau of Land Management, and Natural Resource Conservation Service. They address threats and critical information needs identified in the WAFWA Sage-Grouse Conservation Strategy. Development of a technique to control and eradicate cheatgrass, and designing fuel breaks to protect core sage-grouse habitats from fire could be vital to better manage the largest threat in the western (and potentially eastern) portion of the range. Completing mapping juniper encroachment phases across their entire range, coupled with state and federal funding sources for removal represents a unique opportunity to prevent additional loss of functional habitats and restore sage-grouse to formerly occupied habitats at landscape scales. Development of a range-wide methodology to estimate sage-grouse population size and trends is critical to understanding the conservation status of sage-grouse now and in the future, and to monitoring grouse response to management practices.

Collaboration among land management entities at a range-wide scale helps to coordinate planning, reduce redundancy, increase efficiencies and assures shared priorities. The selected projects seek to create science-based decision support tools and assist in the access and transfer of sage-grouse research data. By working in partnership and providing project funding, the Service has created a strong alliance of people dedicated to sustainable healthy landscapes and natural resource priorities in support of sage-grouse conservation.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: December 29, 2020
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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