Sage Grouse

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

The Obama administration offered five possible plans Thursday for limiting mining on federal land in the West to protect the vulnerable greater sage grouse, but it isn't saying which it prefers.

The options range from banning new mining activity on about 15,000 square miles for up to 20 years to imposing no additional restrictions on mine locations.

The rules would affect sage grouse habitat on federal land in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

Washington DNR

A proposed fuel break system in southwest Idaho, southeast Oregon and northern Nevada will limit the size of destructive rangeland wildfires and protect habitat for sage grouse, say officials with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The agency on Tuesday released a plan called the Tri-State Fuel Break Project, which would create gaps in combustible vegetation along existing roads on public lands in the three states by reducing fuel next to the roads, using either machines or chemical treatments, and maintained with a long-term schedule.

sage grouse, in flight, birds
Bryant Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

Congress has returned to work after the Thanksgiving recess. One of the big items on the docket during the lame duck session is the passage of a $602-billion defense bill. But an amendment by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) has helped to stall its passage, tying the debate over the greater sage grouse to Pentagon funding.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Federal officials on Monday released an ambitious wildfire-fighting and restoration plan to protect a wide swath of sagebrush country in the intermountain West that supports cattle ranching and is home to an imperiled bird.

The 139-page plan is essentially a how-to guide that follows Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's five-page order in early 2015 calling for a "science-based" approach to safeguard greater sage grouse while contending with fires that have been especially destructive in the Great Basin.

Hency T. McLin / Flickr Creative Commons

The sage grouse is one of the most iconic wildlife species in Idaho. But according to a new report, three slightly less-flashy birds are benefiting from conservation efforts aimed at sage grouse.

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

The federal government is using a new assessment of mineral resources on 10 million acres in six Western states to decide whether to ban potential mining on the land to protect an imperiled bird.

Scientists completed the 800-page review requested by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and it was released Tuesday. It looks at areas with high numbers of sage grouse and high-quality habitat for the bird.

Inciweb

It’s not clear yet what started the Cherry Road Fire Sunday afternoon. But what is clear is that dry brush and grass have fueled the flames, making for quickly changing conditions between Sunday and Monday.  

The fire is near the Idaho border, and has blown smoke into the Treasure Valley. A Type 2 firefighting team is now working to get control of the fire, which is threatening the popular Succor Creek State Park. 

Kelsie Kitz / Pioneers Alliance

Rancher Jim Cenarrusa says he sold 9,000 acres of his central Idaho ranch to the Nature Conservancy because he knows the conservation group will take care of it. The land is at the base of the Pioneer Mountains, and is home to sage grouse and pronghorn.

The family will keep a small parcel for their next generation to farm, but Cenarussa says his kids aren’t interested in carrying on the family ranch.

Dan Dzurisin / Flickr Creative Commons

Seven places identified as possible long-term replacement sites for the Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey are smack-dab in the middle of sage grouse country. Loud airport noise, roads, buildings and towers are all things that could disturb the bird, which is famously particular about its habitat.

Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management says it’s close to releasing its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, on the last two segments of the Gateway West Project. That means the creation of the 990 mile long power line across Idaho and Wyoming is one step closer to construction.

carfull / Flickr Creative Commons

Despite the landmark decision not to list the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) last year, there are still lingering questions for many people around the west. A big one? Whether the ESA itself should be reformed.

Karl Stanton / Flickr Creative Commons

The $1.1 trillion federal budget bill was signed into law last Friday, avoiding a government shutdown. Three of Idaho’s four congressmen voted against the omnibus bill, which is being characterized as a compromise budget.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Even though the Obama administration decided not to list the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act in September, University of Idaho professor Karen Launchbaugh knows the issue is not going away.

Courtesy of Ann Kennedy / USDA

It’s been called “marching grass” and “the scourge of the West,” but most people refer to it as cheatgrass. The honey-colored weed is named for its ability to “cheat” during the winter, getting ahead of crops and native perennial grasses by taking root while the others are still dormant.

It's been almost two months since the Obama administration decided not to list the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Just a few days later, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter filed a lawsuit challenging the BLM and Forest Service for the changes in land-use regulations that came with the ESA decision.

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