Some of Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory’s stewardship staff were in Pinedale, Wyoming, in late June to celebrate Sage Grouse Initiative successes with partners from national and state agencies, nonprofits and landowner organizations. Billed as “wildlife conservation through sustainable agriculture,” SGI is a model for voluntary private-lands conservation. It is part of a natural resource conservation movement that marries healthy agricultural lands with healthy populations of wildlife and people. In the last year, SGI has connected with 500 ranchers across 11 states, resulting in:
- prescribed grazing plans on 1.3 million acres
- 200,000 acres of land enrolled in conservation easement programs
- 350 miles of fence marked or removed to reduce collision risks for Sage Grouse
Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Dave White came out from Washington, D.C., and presented plaques to Stewardship Director Seth Gallagher and other key partners who have made the successes on the ground possible. Seth, Brandon, Noah, Joe and Christina of RMBO’s stewardship staff have a key role in enhancing sagebrush habitat for grouse and other sage-obligate species in Colorado and Wyoming. Chief White started SGI in 2010 and recently extended funding for the private lands biologist positions for two more years.
Speaking of D.C., Executive Director Tammy VerCauteren will be heading there twice a year as Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory was just awarded a seat on the North American Bird Conservation Initiative steering committee that guides integrated bird conservation efforts for the U.S. She will join directors of federal agencies and national conservation organizations to help ensure sound science drives decision-making, private-lands conservation is based on common sense, and education and outreach motivate people of all ages to make positive contributions to bird conservation.