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Sage Grouse Success in Washington State

Rancher Kay Leander and his son Joel repair a fence on their ranch to protect Sage Grouse on his land.Location

Douglas County, city of Waterville

Project Summary

As part of an Organic Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contract, a local producer has installed and is utilizing the benefits of a Seasonal High Tunnel.

Conservation Partners

Landowners, US Fish and Wildlife Services Partners' Program and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Resource Challenges

The main focus of the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) is to prevent the Greater Sage Grouse from being listed on the threatened and endangered list. To prevent this the focus has been to work with private landowners as they are the primary stewards. Working with them to change their grazing practices can provide significant improvement in residual cover which the birds need for nesting and brood rearing. We are trying to ensure that the landowner's rights are not being removed, but to ensure they stay in place by being proactive.

Conservation Programs Used

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Working Lands for Wildlife (WHIP), prescribed grazing, infrastructure associated with grazing, range planting, fence removal and fence marking.

Innovations/Highlights:

By having a few kitchen table meetings in 2012 we were able to enroll 14,400 acres in Douglas County in a rest-rotational grazing plan which will provide critical nesting habitat. These producers have opened interests in SGI among neighbors and other producers. Discussions have also extended to what else can we do to help the grouse populations - fence removal, fence marking and improved expiring CRP plantings.

Results/Accomplishments

Receiving continued interest from producers in enrolling in rest-rotational grazing from numerous counties which have Sage Grouse. Working with partners like WDFW and USFWS to spread the word and increase their participation in SGI. Improving habitat on over 570 acres of expired CRP or old agricultural fields, over 16 miles of fence removal and 33 miles of fence to be marked as well as over 20,000 acres of grazing improvements are just some of the work being completed to help the Sage Grouse. Those numbers will continue to go up as contracts are completed in FY13.

Contact

Kevin Guinn, Range Management Specialist, Ephrata, WA, (509) 754-3023 x 1129

NRCS, Spring 2013

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