Sage Grouse? Who Cares?

Sage Grouse? Who Cares?

Sage Grouse? Who Cares? I’m Greg Martin with Washington Ag Today.

Last weeks announcement by Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell about the sage grouse has gotten a lot of press.

JEWELL: The Greater Sage Grouse does not need protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service has invest a lot of money, some $300-million dollars to help benefit the sage grouse. NRCS’ Robert Bonnie lists some of the programs

BONNIE: NRCS has worked with over 1100 ranchers to improve grazing practices, to restore habitat and to place conservation easements on working ranches.

But some people are asking why we care so much about this unusual bird that makes its home in a large portion of the west including here in Washington State. In an axiom, what’s good for the bird is good for the herd. Many of the species that live in the sagebrush ecosystem are found nowhere else in the world. Protecting the sage grouse’s habitat also protects the 350+ other species -- from mule deer and elk to pronghorn and golden eagles -- that depend on the sagebrush landscape for survival. Another benefit is that sagebrush equals world-class recreation. Nicknamed the sagebrush sea, the sagebrush ecosystem provides amazing outdoor recreation opportunities. These activities, along with ranching, are key to local economies. A healthy sagebrush habitat supports $1 billion in outdoor recreation.

And that’s Washington Ag Today. I’m Greg Martin, thanks for listening on the Ag Information Network of the West.

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