Working Lands for Wildlife: Sage Grouse Initiative in Colorado
Photo by Jeremy R. Roberts, Conservation Media
Through the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI), NRCS works with landowners in 11 Western states to improve habitat for sage grouse and improve sustainability and productivity of native rangelands. Using a voluntary and incentive based approach, NRCS focuses its resources in priority conservation areas and areas with higher bird populations in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. (Click on Colorado map to view larger image of SGI priority areas.)
In Colorado, landowners and land managers on the western slope are encouraged to visit with their local USDA NRCS Service Center to inquire about the benefits of participating in the initiative.
How SGI Works
NRCS uses Farm Bill conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), to provide technical and financial assistance to help ranchers accelerate installation of conservation practices on the ground. Conservation practices are designed to be win-win solutions addressing threats facing both sage-grouse and rangelands. This type of conservation work includes:
Teaming up with ranchers to customize a grazing plan that will improve nesting, rearing, and wintering habitats for sage grouse,
remove encroaching conifers that have invaded sagebrush-steppe,
conservation easements to keep working lands working as intact range,
enhance and protect wet meadows, spring, seeps, and riparian associated to the sagebrush-steppe, and
remove, relocate or visually mark fences to reduce sage grouse collisions.
While SGI focuses its work on private lands, home to 40 percent of the birds, NRCS also participates in projects on federal lands where ranchers have leases for grazing. This unparalleled partnership aims for seamless conservation across boundaries.
The NRCS accepts applications on an ongoing basis. Colorado landowners and land mangers within Moffat, Delta, Eagle, Garfield, Mesa, Gunnison, Grand, Summit, Rio Blanco, Montrose, Routt, Jackson, Saguache, San Miguel, and Dolores counties are encouraged to visit their local USDA NRCS Service Center for more information.
For funding consideration, complete the application using form CPA-1200 NRCS Conservation Program Application located on the Colorado EQIP webpage where you can also view the Ranking Documents, Eligible Practices & Payment Rates. You may complete and print the form online.
To download the FY2015-2018 Sage Grouse Initiative 2.0 Investment Strategy (PDF, 2.0MB), please click on link or the SGI photo.
Read the stories of SGI Featured Ranchers and visit the Sage Grouse Initiative website for more details on the sage grouse and its habitat, sagebrush-steppe wildlife, and the people on the land.
NRCS’ sage grouse conservation efforts are part of Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW), the agency’s effort to accelerate conservation efforts for at-risk species. More information on WLFW.