The Sage Grouse Initiative works cooperatively to achieve wildlife conservation through sustainable ranching. We do this by putting “boots on the ground” in the form of dozens of range conservationists and wildlife biologists. These resource specialists — known collectively as the SGI Strategic Watershed Action Team (SWAT) — work with private landowners on conservation projects.
Our SWAT staff are located in critical core areas across the West where conservation work will most benefit sage grouse and their habitat. These staff are based in NRCS field offices, and employed by a wide range of SGI’s partners: conservation districts, state wildlife agencies, nonprofit organizations, or federal resource agencies.
This month, SGI and SWAT staff gathered together on the California-Nevada border to share notes, and learn from the unprecedented conservation efforts centered around the Bi-State distinct population of Greater sage-grouse. The success of proactive, voluntary projects to recover this species and its habitat prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to withdraw the proposal to list the Bi-State population as threatened under the Endangered Species Act this year.
The highlight of the SWAT team gathering was an award presentation by SGI lead staff Tim Griffiths and Dave Naugle. It was a pleasure for us to recognize the hard work, astute leadership, and cooperative ability of the people who have made all the difference for sage grouse in the Bi-State region.
The meeting in Minden, Nevada also featured presentations from several Bi-State partners, as well as field tours of projects that worked for both the bird and local ranchers. Tour stops included: the Sweetwater Ranch with SGI-enrolled ranchers; Bridgeport Cooperative Pinyon Juniper Project with SGI partner the Bishop Office of the California BLM, and Sinnamon Meadows in the Bodie Hills.
Here’s to a job well done by a group of dedicated conservationists willing to work across boundaries to protect a bird and its ecosystem. Three cheers for these proactive conservation leaders!