Sagebrush Science Initiative

The Sagebrush Science Initiative is a collaborative effort originally between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and WAFWA to identify and fill the highest priority gaps in scientific knowledge needed to effectively conserve sagebrush dependent species and the sagebrush habitats they depend on.  Two requests for proposals (RFPs) have been issued soliciting proposals for scientific research or analysis on sagebrush obligate or dependent species, and particularly those evaluating the degree to which sage-grouse conservation practices may serve as an umbrella for other species. Nine projects have been approved for funding (summary below) that will provide information on a broad spectrum of taxa, from predictive models on distribution within sagebrush stands of reptiles and amphibians to documenting deer migration corridors and winter ranges across the west.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provided funding to help fund research into the human dimensions of sagebrush conservation, and consequently a Sagebrush Conservation Social Science RFP was released in late September, 2017.  Development of the RFP, and ultimately scoring and ranking of proposals, was a collaborative effort of scientists and managers from WAFWA, USFWS, BLM, United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the United States Forest Service (USFS). The RFP solicited proposals on science projects related to stakeholder engagement, economic aspects of sagebrush conservation, and other social aspects of sagebrush conservation.

 

Sagebrush Conservation Strategy

A key aspect of the Sagebrush Science Initiative is to use the biological and social science information produced through this Initiative, as well as the entire body of relevant science to produce a collaborative Sagebrush Conservation Strategy.  The intent of the Strategy is to provide a roadmap for voluntary conservation measures for managing and conserving the sagebrush ecosystem that build on conservation measures already in place for sage-grouse.  The goal is to maintain dependent plant and animal communities as well as traditional human uses of this landscape.  It is intended to be an “all-hands, all-lands” inclusive approach.  A conceptual narrative and draft outline (below) for what this Sagebrush Conservation Strategy might look like was produced following a Workshop coordinated by WAFWA in Denver, attended by scientists and managers from BLM, USFWS, USFS, USGS, State Wildlife Agencies, Universities, and numerous NGOs with expertise in, or responsibility for sagebrush or sagebrush-dependent wildlife.  Work to compile scientific and technical information will begin in Fall, 2017, with stakeholder engagement on strategic aspects to follow at a later date.