A place to nest: place-based conservation and the greater sage-grouse

The Problem: Sagebrush country in central and eastern Oregon is home to close-knit rural communities, an economy centered on agriculture and natural resources, and a potentially vast source of renewable energy. It also is home to the greater sage-grouse, a species in trouble and also an important indicator of the overall health of sagebrush ecosystems.

With the US Fish and Wildlife Service considering whether to list the sage-grouse as threatened or endangered, Oregon needs a clear strategy for balancing economic development and conservation, and for tracking the outcomes of conservation investments.

The Solution: Willamette Partnership is supporting the Sage-Grouse Conservation Partnership (SageCon), a state-wide, multi-stakeholder effort to provide a comprehensive strategy for achieving healthy sage-grouse populations, resilient sagebrush ecosystems, and economically and socially vibrant rural communities.

The Partnership is working with SageCon partners to build a sage-grouse habitat mitigation program that provides incentives for responsible stewardship and quantifies the effects of development and conservation activities on sage-grouse habitat. The mitigation strategy will provide the science, policy, and tools to give counties clarity on development opportunities, steer conservation to the places where it will do the greatest good, and ensure net benefits for sage-grouse and sagebrush ecosystems. We are also working with colleagues playing similar roles in other states to work toward an integrated approach across the bird’s 11-state range.

Results: The Draft Sage-Grouse Habitat Mitigation Protocol and the broader state-wide strategy are scheduled for release in September 2014.