Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Help for almost-endangered bird

Although Greater Sage-Grouse will not receive protection under the Endangered Species Act as quickly as some advocates desire, it will benefit from an initiative recently announced by U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Resources Conservation Service.

With funds from two voluntary conservation programs -- Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program -- ranchers and farmers can conserve the sage-grouses' sagebrush habitat.

“Thanks to this NRCS program support, ranch communities will be able devote more resources to sagebrush habitat recovery as well as initiate new cooperative habitat revitalization efforts,” said Leo Barthelmess, a rancher in Malta, Montana, and founding member of Ranchers Stewardship Alliance, which works collaboratively with agencies, private landowners, non-governmental organizations and many other partners to conserve sage-grouse habitat across a 1 million-acre landscape in eastern Montana.
According to Environmental Defense Fund,
sage-grouse populations have declined from an estimated 320,000 males in 1965-1970 to less than 90,000 males on just over 5,000 communal stomping grounds called “leks” in the western United States, as of 2007. Greater sage-grouse currently occur in only 11 western states: California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Photo courtesy of Environmental Defense Fund



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