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Sage-Grouse FAQs

Why is the sagebrush steppe ecosystem unique and threatened?

Image of Sage-Grouse by Nick Myatt, ODFWIt is the most widespread ecosystem type in the U.S., sagebrush steppe is home to over 350 vertabrate species as well as vast natural habitats and recreation opportunities. Partners across 11 western states have come together to address threats to this unique landscape. In Oregon, there are over 15 million acres of sagebrush habitat.

Additional resources:

Sagebrush Ecosystem (Audubon)


Why are sage-grouse important?

Image of Sage-grouse by American PrarieOnce abundant across much of western North America (into Canada) and eastern Oregon, the range and numbers of Sage-Grouse have declined – for reasons ranging from increased wildfire to a loss of native habitat. Beyond just Sage-Grouse, these factors have significant implications for ranchers, economic development interests, outdoor recreationists, rural communities and a wide variety of other wildlife.

Additional resources:

Why Care About Sage-Grouse? (SageCon Partnership)

The Sagebrush Sea Documentary (PBS)

Sage-Grouse: Icon of the West (NRCS)

Greater Sage-Grouse Species Information (USFWS)

Greater Sage-Grouse Species Information (USFS)

Greater Sage-Grouse Backgrounder (ODFW)

Guide to Greater Sage-Grouse (Audubon)

Basic Facts About Sage-Grouse (Defenders of Wildlife)

Sage-grouse Conservation (The Nature Conservancy)

Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation and the Sagebrush Ecosystem (BLM)


What's at stake with Oregon's rural communities and economies?

Image of Sage-grouse herd by NRCSThe range of Sage-Grouse in Oregon includes the following counties: Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Union, and Wheeler. These counties are among those with the slowest population and economic growth in Oregon while experienceing some of the higher rates of unemployment per capita. Each county has worked with private landowners (farmers, ranchers, developers, etc.), local Soil & Water Conservation Districts, the State and others to address threats facing the sagebrush steppe. From wildfire to invasive species to habitat fragmentation, local actors work together to promote healthy landscapes for the bird as well as the community.

Additional resources:

Sagebrush Symphony (OPB)

Land Use, Development and Sage-Grouse Fact Sheet (Oregon Solutions)

Ranching, Livestock Grazing, and Sage-Grouse Fact Sheet (Oregon Solutions)

Sage-Grouse Initiative Projects (Sage-Grouse Initiative)

Partners in the Sage (BLM and Intermountain West Joint Venture)


What is currently happening with the SageCon Partnership?

Image of SageCon Meeting by National Policy Consensus CenterIn September 2015, the USFWS determined the Greater Sage-Grouse does not require protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Prior to the announcement, the SageCon Partnership submitted its State Action Plan to move from planning to implementation on the premise that conservation strategies and actions must be science-based, prioritized on a landscape-scale, adaptable to local conditions and needs, and supported by long-term investments and regulatory commitments. To secure partnership commitments, Governor Brown signed Executive Order 15-18 directing advancement of Oregon's Action Plan.

Further, a cross-governmnent MOU is emerging to secure the commitments and roles of government actors across the landscape. And, state plus federal funding sources continue to work together and with local actors in advancing priority actions on-the-ground, including those tied to habitat health with landowners through Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances and related to wildfire through Rangeland Fire Protection Associations.

Additional resources:

About the SageCon Partnership

Governor Kate Brown's Executive Order

The Greater Sage-Grouse Does Not Require Endangered Species Protection (DOI Secretary Jewell's Sage-grouse announcement on video)

Governor Kate Brown's response to Jewell's Sage-Grouse announcement


Authored by Julia Babcock, National Policy Consensus Center, Portland State University (2017)