Sage Grouse Habitat

Photo from 2005 BLM brochure

Sage grouse originally inhabited 13 states and three Canadian provinces. The species was first described for science by Lewis and Clark during their 1804 expedition. Sage grouse are currently found in parts of 11 states and southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Sage grouse strongholds remain in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon. Even in these states, changing land uses have raised concerns over the species' future. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has considered adding the species to the threatened and endangered species list. Local Working Groups (LWG) generally coordinate local habitat conservation efforts.

Conservation of our natural resources, including sage grouse habitat, requires a systematic approach. Too often one conservation action deteriorates the positive effects from a previous action. The best way to coordinate resource conservation is through designing and following a Conservation Plan. As most agency staff are now engaged in mandatory programmatic conservation efforts, many landowners/land users are forced to develop their own Conservation Plan. A good way to accomplish a preliminary Conservation Plan on cropland, rangeland or forestland in Idaho is online through the OnePlan Conservation Planner In addition, the OnePlan Range Management Planner is being developed to create site specific Range Management Plans in Idaho. The Range Management Planner will be completed when the new USDA/NRCS Rangeland Ecological Site Description (ESD) layer is finalized for the state.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission and the Idaho Governor's Office of Species Conservation (OSC) are leading the sage grouse habitat conservation efforts in Idaho. In 1997, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved the first statewide sage-grouse management plan. The 1997 plan divided the state into management areas and encouraged local working groups (LWGs) to begin developing local solutions to sage-grouse needs. There are currently seven active Local Working Groups and several others beginning their work in Idaho. The 2006 Conservation Plan for the Greater Sage-grouse in Idaho replaces the 1997 plan and can be and downloaded from the Fish and Game site.

The Idaho and Montana NRCS have developed an informational website devoted to restoring and maintaining sage grouse habitat. They have also developed a brochure describing conservation of sage grouse habitat, Improving Sage Grouse Habitat through Revegetation and Rangeland Management.

The Bureau of Land Management also has a comprehensive website devoted to sage grouse habitat conservation. The BLM's sage grouse website contains many useful links to other information including the National Sage-Grouse Habitat Conservation Strategy (PDF) which establishes a comprehensive approach to the management of sage-grouse habitat on public lands. The BLM's 30 years of experience in sagebrush conservation are the foundation of the National Strategy, which in turn incorporates and extends this broad knowledge into further action by guiding the development of local and regional conservation plans.