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The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west #8221107 11/04/13
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UtahLefty Offline OP
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I'm not much of a "chicken little" (pun intended) kind of guy but I also think this has been somewhat of a "sleeper issue" that's not getting the air time it deserves.

That the Greater sage grouse has declined in population is not in dispute -- but what's to be done about it is very much so.

Greenie groups have requested, and .gov has agreed, to make a decision by 2015 as to whether to list it as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

With a range of nearly 50 million acres across 11 states, this decision has the potential to define the future of economic / recreational use of land in the mountain west, including nearly all public land in NV,UT,WY, & MT.

I am unaware of .gov ever contemplating a decision of this scale before.

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The comment period is now open through 2014 on BLM management plans in the affected states.

See:

BLM table of state meetings / proposals

and

BLM PDF of five proposals

The BLM is accepting public comment on 5 proposals ranging from "do nothing" to "full listing"

The one thing everyone agrees upon is that "Do nothing" isn't going to happen.

The middle proposals are based on Utah's current management plan are likely going to need key support to prevent "full listing" from happening.

Be sure to comment during the comment period -- and attend the open house meetings if you can -- as this just may be the whole shebang in one shot.



BP-B2

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: UtahLefty] #8221126 11/04/13
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I would think habitat management would really be the only big issue. Not sure how oil and gas figure in. As far as I've seen roads are mostly a non-issue. Preserving sage and any other habitat requirements couldn't be that difficult, especially when looked at in comparison to the problems that accompany a listing.

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: ranger1] #8221144 11/04/13
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that's the hope -- that agreements can be made in areas like fence removal / flagging, and exclusion zones around lekking areas (UT wants 3 miles, Feds want 4).

All of the state F&Gs have management plans in place, the real risk (IMO) is being complacent and allowing a listing to happen when it didn't need to be so.



Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: UtahLefty] #8221181 11/04/13
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This could ultimately be a much greater threat to hunting than the wolves. I can see them trying to shut down huge tracts of public land to all use, including hunting, grazing, and off road travel. They're going to push this for all they can wring out of it.


A good sermon doesn't tell the difference between right and wrong. It tells the difference between right and almost right.
Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: Rock Chuck] #8221309 11/04/13
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IC-A

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: mtmiller] #8221340 11/04/13
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I'm sure there's a lot of good info there, but when they totally overlook lack of commercial logging as a potential contributor to increased frequency of western wildfires and attribute increases in conifer invasion of sagebrush to global warming, my BS meter starts to beep.

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: ranger1] #8221426 11/04/13
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Conifer encroachment may be facilitated by increases in global carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, and climate change, but the influence of CO2 has not been supported by some research (Archer et al. 1995).

Areas of uncertainty include the effects of climate change and renewable energy development, the lack of robust information on population connectivity, the relationship between specific habitat characteristics and demographic parameters, and the lack of understanding of the processes necessary to restore sagebrush communities (Knick et al. 2003).

The effect of climate change on the amount and distribution of future habitat is largely unknown.

We did not identify objectives for addressing the potential impacts of climate change due to the uncertainties associated with modeling the resulting future condition and distribution of sage-brush habitats.

Threat Reduction ..................................................................................................................................... 38
Fire ...................................................................................................................................................... 40
Non-native, Invasive Plant Species ..................................................................................................... 42
Energy Development .......................................................................................................................... 43
Sagebrush Removal ............................................................................................................................ 44
Grazing ................................................................................................................................................ 44
Range Management Structures ........................................................................................................... 46
Free-Roaming Equid Management ..................................................................................................... 46
Pinyon-juniper Expansion ................................................................................................................... 47
Agricultural Conversion ...................................................................................................................... 48
Mining ................................................................................................................................................. 49
Recreation ........................................................................................................................................... 49
Ex-Urban Development ...................................................................................................................... 50
Infrastructure ....................................................................................................................................... 51
Fences ................................................................................................................................................. 52

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: mtmiller] #8221463 11/04/13
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Fire is one of the primary factors linked to loss of sagebrush-steppe habitat and corresponding
population declines of greater sage-grouse (Connelly and Braun 1997; Miller and Eddleman
2001). Loss of sagebrush habitat to wildfire has been increasing in the western portion of the
greater sage-grouse range due to an increase in fire frequency. The increase in mean fire
frequency in sagebrush ecosystems has been facilitated by the incursion of nonnative annual
grasses, primarily Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass) and Taeniatherum asperum (medusahead)
(Billings 1994; Miller and Eddleman 2001). The positive feedback loop between exotic annual
grasses and fires can preclude the opportunity for sagebrush to become re-established. Exotic
annual grasses and other invasive plants also alter habitat suitability for sage-grouse by reducing
or eliminating native forbs and grasses essential for food and cover. Annual grasses and noxious
perennials continue to expand their range, facilitated by ground disturbances, including wildfire
(Miller and Eddleman 2001; Balch et al. 2013), improper grazing (Young et al. 1972, 1976),
agriculture (Benvenuti 2007), and infrastructure associated with energy development (Bergquist
et al. 2007). Concern with habitat loss and fragmentation due to fire and invasive plants has
mostly been focused in the western portion of the speciesí range. However, climate change may
alter the range of invasive plants, potentially expanding the importance of this threat into other
areas of the speciesí range.

From a layman's perspective the previous quote, coupled with the Archer 1995 info, seems to indicate a lean toward global warming as a potential cause of both situations. Seems a bit far fetched to me. When I then read that some feel that non-native grasses are the cause of increased frequency of wildfires, with no mention of severely curtailed logging, I start to wonder if there's an agenda at work. Very interesting stuff, I guess my previous experience with USFWS biologists and their rather green agendas may have colored my reading of the paper somewhat.

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: ranger1] #8221603 11/04/13
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Hate to say it, but the problem areas I have seen in the last 30+ years are due to grazing into oblivion.


Soli Deo Gloria

From slavery to marxism, it's always been "you work, I eat", with democrats

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: oldtrapper] #8221697 11/04/13
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Many parts Montana are severely overgrazed. I would bet the rest of the west is no different.

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Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: ranger1] #8221706 11/04/13
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I did a driving job over in Sun Valley for a large philanthropic group. They had a couple of biologists riding around on a ranch with them for a couple of days. When the subject of sage grouse came up, the biologist in my vehicle said roads on the prairie were a very big issue. The local rancher in the vehicle immediately disagreed and I had to add my two cents as well. Jackson Hole airport has a devil of a time keeping the sage grouse off the runway, and I see tons of sage grouse crossing the roads while I'm antelope hunting or just cruising the prairie. Roads don't bother sage grouse in the least.


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Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: Snake River Marksman] #8221739 11/04/13
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Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: Snake River Marksman] #8221793 11/04/13
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Originally Posted by Snake River Marksman
Jackson Hole airport has a devil of a time keeping the sage grouse off the runway, and I see tons of sage grouse crossing the roads while I'm antelope hunting or just cruising the prairie. Roads don't bother sage grouse in the least.


Likely that lek predates the airport, but your point is still a good one. The roads may not be a problem, but the weeds that often follow new or existing roads are. Road beds are the perfect area to get cheatgrass established in an area. Once the area burns... goodbye sagebrush and hello cheat. Some of that Snake River Plain country is monoculture of cheatgrass where sagebrush used to grow. Not good for wildlife, ranching or even recreation.

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: UtahLefty] #8221821 11/04/13
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Well they did try something on about the same scale when they tried to "list" the prairie dogs.
The Wyoming toad , and the preebles jumping mouse have kept folks pretty busy on this side of the divide for quite a number of years.
Can't speak to other states, but the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts has been involved with this Sage Grouse thing pretty heavily for several years, and have been able to get some things agreed to by both production ag and natural resource people and the "save the grouse " folks.
Lots of things to be done yet, and it'll likely turn out to be like most "endangered" species, it'll all hinge on a judges political leanings in the end.


the most expensive bullet there is isn't worth a plug nickel if it don't go where its supposed to.
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Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: Ranch13] #8222705 11/04/13
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I work for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) We used to be called the Soil Conservation Service (SCS). The sage grouse is one of 7 species that the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) is intended to help and avoid the need for an Endangered Species listing.

NRCS Sage Grouse page: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal...rams/financial/whip/?cid=stelprdb1047022

If you're a private landowner in the focus area and want to do something, contact your local NRCS office for more information.

Sorry for all the abbreviations but that's the government for you. smile

Dale


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Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: Dale K] #8223138 11/04/13
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I don't see any mention of the effects of predatory birds on the Sage Grouse. Every time I drive through eastern Montana or Wyoming I see more hawks and eagles than I see antelope. I don't think road killed deer and antelope are the only things that they are eating.

For the past 5 or so years there has been a bunch of wild turkeys that roost in the trees on the hill above my neighbors house. Every day in the winter months between 20-30 turkeys have been coming down into my and my neighbors yards. In the summers, the hens move down into the hayfields, but 5 o5 6 toms used to stick around the houses.

This past spring a pair of Red Tail Hawks built a nest in a cottonwood tree by the creek below our houses. Now I see the hawks every day, but I haven't seen a turkey in months.


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Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: ranger1] #8223165 11/04/13
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Oil and gas roads fragment habitat. I took Renewable Resource Management with a Conservation Enforcement specialty in College. One field trip we took to watch the mating dances on a "lek". The oil and gas roads also plow under more of the tall mature sage the birds require.

The instructor mainly blamed the lack of prairie fires and livestock grazing in the mature tall sage the grouse use for shelter. Cattle knock down the brush and graze the grass short reducing the hiding cover (mainly when the hens are on the nest). Fire required to rejuvenate the sage, otherwise it gets quite woody and not as much succulent browse.

Anyways that is what I remember from an early morning in April 1989.

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: Rock Chuck] #8223168 11/04/13
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Originally Posted by Rock Chuck
This could ultimately be a much greater threat to hunting than the wolves. I can see them trying to shut down huge tracts of public land to all use, including hunting, grazing, and off road travel. They're going to push this for all they can wring out of it.


They are threatening oil and gas drilling in west texas and NM over the prairie chicken.

Fat chance of helping them with hawks being protected and no 1080 for coyotes.


The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time by the blood of patriots and tyrants.

If being stupid allows me to believe in Him, I'd wish to be a retard. Eisenhower and G Washington should be good company.
Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: buffybr] #8223207 11/04/13
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Originally Posted by buffybr
I don't see any mention of the effects of predatory birds on the Sage Grouse. Every time I drive through eastern Montana or Wyoming I see more hawks and eagles than I see antelope. I don't think road killed deer and antelope are the only things that they are eating.

For the past 5 or so years there has been a bunch of wild turkeys that roost in the trees on the hill above my neighbors house. Every day in the winter months between 20-30 turkeys have been coming down into my and my neighbors yards. In the summers, the hens move down into the hayfields, but 5 o5 6 toms used to stick around the houses.

This past spring a pair of Red Tail Hawks built a nest in a cottonwood tree by the creek below our houses. Now I see the hawks every day, but I haven't seen a turkey in months.


Normally, big hawks will move the turkeys out. West texas ranchers may only have trees around the ranch houses and water holes. They have told me if they have wild turkey coming to roost daily, if one hawk or horned owl sits in the roost trees the turkeys will not come in. Hawks and owls are real rough on young turkeys (quail, too).

Often I have seen turkey roost on power line poles if they have a horizontal beam, even the really big power lines where they use the double and tall poles.


The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time by the blood of patriots and tyrants.

If being stupid allows me to believe in Him, I'd wish to be a retard. Eisenhower and G Washington should be good company.
Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: eyeball] #8223221 11/04/13
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