More Water, More Forage, More Sage-Grouse
Cattle ranchers Don and Sheila Phillips wanted to do something to help sage-grouse on their ranch near Ely, but Don wasn’t convinced those new white vinyl markers he’d added to his fences would do anything to prevent bird collisions. A few weeks later, though, Don stopped in the Ely NRCS office with big news.
"I was headed out in the field and the sage-grouse took off and headed right for that fence, but sure enough, at the last minute, they went up and over those markers!"
The Phillips are participants in the NRCS’s Sage-Grouse Initiative, a partnership program available to farmers and ranchers who want to make improvement on their private and public land. Conservation measures that enhance sage-grouse habitat have also been shown to improve grazing by increasing forage for livestock and reducing wildfire risk.
In Central Nevada, Louis Cole has seen dramatic benefits from the improvements he made with NRCS assistance. Cole removed pinyon and juniper trees, reseeded areas, and installed grade stabilization structures where the stream channel had downcut. After the first year, the creek flowed longer than Cole had seen in years and the meadows are wider and healthy. It appears that some planned reseeding won’t be necessary as the native vegetation is returning on its own now that the trees have been removed.
The Bootstraps Program and NRCS partnered again in 2012 to remove pinyon-juniper on over 1,100 acres and install steel jack fences around meadows providing critical habitat for sage-grouse.
SGI Accomplishments in Fiscal Year 2012
Sage-Grouse Initiative Contracts: 21
Sage-Grouse Habitat Restored: 328,964 acres (private and public)
Pinyon-Juniper Removed: 8,000 acres
Marked Fence: 80,226 feet
Sage-Grouse Initiative Obligations: $2,164,199