$8M fund to help sage-grouse conservation
An $8 million fund to support initiatives conserving the bi-state population of greater sage-grouse and enhancing ranch water quality in the region, has been created by the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
Sage-grouse thrive in wide-open areas with abundant sagebrush, native grasses, and wet meadows – a landscape known as the sagebrush ecosystem, frequently found on working ranches. The program will ensure sage-grouse, along with other wildlife species that rely on the sagebrush ecosystem, will continue to exist harmoniously on ranchlands for years to come. This funding is available to landowners in the bi-state area along the California-Nevada border.
Local non-profit Eastern Sierra Land Trust spearheaded the funding request with 10 other national, state, regional, and private partners.
“Clean water and ranch stewardship are priorities that span state and party lines, and the bi-state demonstrates that spirit of collaboration. This award is an affirmation of the work we are doing together and the power of partnership,” commented Susanna Danner, land conservation program director at ESLT.
Administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the program is a new and competitive program created in the 2014 Farm Bill. The RCPP awards innovative projects across the country that improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat, and protect agricultural viability.
One of only 88 projects funded nationwide, this investment is a result of the Bi-State Local Area Working Group, a cross-state partnership formed in 2002 to conserve sage-grouse habitat and protect rangeland health. The LAWG is composed of ranchers, conservationists, private organizations, state and local officials, and public land managers. In 2015, this group played a pivotal role in keeping the Bi-State population of greater sage-grouse off the Endangered Species List.
“This is an outstanding example of what can be achieved when people come together with a focus on solving a problem by harmonizing the diverse interests of all those involved,” remarked Pete Pumphrey, Eastern Sierra Audubon Society Conservation Chair.