Greater Sage-Grouse CCAA for Wyoming Ranch Management
Prior to settlement in the 19th century, Greater sage-grouse (hereafter referred to as 'sage-grouse') inhabited 13 western States and 3 Canadian provinces, and their potential habitat covered over 1,200,483 km2 (463,509 mi2). They have declined across their range for a variety of causes, and now occur in 11 States and 2 Canadian provinces. Many factors played a role in reducing sage-grouse from a once abundant, broadly distributed species, but the primary threat is loss of habitat due to increased surface disturbance and the general fragmentation of the landscape. These concerns were identified as primary threats in the 2005 Endangered Species Act (ESA) finding and remain so, but with more intensity and on a larger scale today. In the 2010 finding, additional concerns have been identified including an increase in the use of sagebrush habitat for renewable energy such as wind power, and the spread of West Nile Virus.
In anticipation of the finding decision, the Wyoming Governor's Office (WGO) requested assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in developing a sage-grouse strategy for ranch management activities that could offer landowners assurances that their livestock operations could continue, in the event the bird were listed under the ESA. The WGO and FWS in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S Forest Service, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts have developed an umbrella Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA).
A CCAA is a voluntary agreement whereby landowners agree to manage their lands to remove or reduce threats to species at risk of being listed under the ESA. In return for managing their lands to the benefit of a species at risk, landowners receive assurances against additional regulatory requirements should that species ever be listed under the ESA. Under a CCAA, the FWS will issue enrolled landowners Enhancement of Survival permits pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA for a period of 20 years. Permits would be issued to participating landowners contingent on development of a site-specific sage-grouse conservation plan that is consistent with this CCAA. This umbrella CCAA includes:
- A general description of responsibilities of all involved Participating Agencies and landowners, and the area to be covered under the umbrella CCAA;
- Background, status and general threats to sage-grouse, and conservation measures needed to remove or reduce those identified threats;
- Expected benefits of prescribed actions in relation to the five threat factors that the FWS is required to evaluate when considering a species for listing; and
- Level of take, assurances, monitoring and annual reporting.
Information and Resources for Individual CCAAs
Statewide Umbrella CCAA
FWS Wyoming Ecological Services Contact for CCAA