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Near-term Greater Sage-grouse Conservation Action Plan

September 11, 2011

A report prepared by the Range-wide Interagency Sage-grouse Conservation Team

The Range-wide Interagency Sage-grouse Conservation Team (RISCT) evaluated an inclusive array of documented threats to Greater sage-grouse, as identified by the Conservation Strategy and the Service’s 2010 status review. The threats were categorized by which are addressable in the short-term and have the potential to affect the listing decision by providing meaningful conservation actions. A number of threats are not addressed in the near-term conservation action plan because the associated conservation actions are unlikely to be effective in the short-term, they were not widespread and therefore more effectively addressed locally, or the threat was not of an immediate nature. The threats that were not addressed are not insignificant and will need to be addressed in the long-term.

Threats were ranked as high, moderate or low priority. The ranking in this report reflect their status for this exercise only – all of the threats identified herein are high priority when considered relative to all the threats facing sage-grouse. For this report, these high priority threats were ranked to inform short-term conservation actions which would be effective in reducing threats to the species prior to the Service’s listing status review in 2015. The ranking presented here should not be used out of context. Generally, the costs presented here are higher than those identified in the Conservation Strategy; however, we now have better estimate for a number of conservation actions (actual SGI costs, increased fire costs, and expanding exotic annual grass threats) and the change in costs during the previous 6 years. Several of the conservation actions require the redirection of staff time to address the action.

These conservation actions presented in this summary depend upon the active participation by the broad natural resource community. For example, we ask firefighters with increased efforts in the sagebrush ecosystem as well as fire scientists to help plan attack strategies. We ask plant ecologists to help improve seeding success rates post-fire and to develop biological or chemical tools to address exotic annual grasses. We ask for Congressional staffs to support and move legislation forward and Governor’s to engage in legislative and executive actions to ameliorate threats. The coordinated interaction and participation of the entire natural resource community is the key to the successful implementation of these conservation actions, and the conservation of sagebrush and sage-grouse.

This report presents the actions necessary to effect a change in the conservation status of the greater sage-grouse. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all necessary actions to remove all threats to this species and its habitats, but rather to provide a blueprint for short-term action. Conservation of this species must continue to be a long-term priority as challenges to the bird and associated ecosystems will continue beyond 2015. While implementation of the conservation actions identified in this short-term action plan is essential to achieve the “desirable status” identified by the Task Force, a long-term plan addressing all threats to this species will be a necessary follow-up to ensure the status of greater sage-grouse is never again in question.

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