Protecting Sage-Grouse Habitat

Sage grouse
Albert Dickson
Sage-grouse populations face significant threats from rampant oil and gas drilling, road development and other damage to sagebrush. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can help.

For centuries, a vibrant sagebrush ecosystem covered the western U.S. landscape. Now the survival of sage-grouse and hundreds of other animals that depend on sagebrush are threatened. The Bureau of Land Management can help save the sage-grouse.  

A ritual bird

Curious crowds gather every spring to witness the famous courtship ritual of the greater sage-grouse. It involves the male birds performing an elaborate strutting display and mating calls. But a diminishing sage-grouse population and reduced habitat increasingly limit opportunities to view this ritual.

The BLM has committed to incorporating protective measures into resource management plans to conserve and rehabilitate greater sage-grouse populations.

Gaining legal protection?

The greater sage-grouse is eligible for protection under federal law. The sage-grouse could be protected by this law – the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 2011 – if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service includes the bird in a new listing decision it will make by 2015.

The BLM’s role

During this interim, the BLM’s actions will impact sage-grouse populations and the sagebrush ecosystem.

  • BLM has committed to incorporating protective measures into resource management plans to conserve and rehabilitate greater sage-grouse populations.
  • BLM manages more than half of U.S. sagebrush habitat in the United States - up to 47 million acres of land.
  • The BLM’s goal is to reach recovery levels so the sage-grouse does not require protection under federal law.
  • An official listing of the sage under federal law would have enormous impacts on development in Western states.

The BLM, along with the U.S. Forest Service has started to evaluate and incorporate conservation measures into land use plans in ten Western states – affecting millions of acres. Activities to be addressed include:

  • transmission lines
  • oil and gas leasing
  • renewable energy development
  • grazing
  • roads
  • recreation

Critical juncture

This is a critical junction in the management of BLM lands. The agency, with the help of scientists, local community leaders and citizens, can chart a path forward for our public lands. This path can conserve the many ecological and wilderness values of the sagebrush and strategically plan how best to use the resources and recreation that our communities enjoy.

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