Greater Sage-Grouse on a Lek – Our Public Lands – Our Legacy

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Here is your country - Greater Sage-Grouse on a LekHere is your country – Greater Sage-Grouse on a lek – Nikon D810, f8, 1/800, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

The other day I saw someone on Facebook mention that they had seen Greater Sage-Grouse already appearing on a lek and it started me thinking about these upland game birds, sagebrush steppe, our public lands, conservation, preservation and Theodore Roosevelt.

One might ask what do Greater Sage-Grouse have to do with our public lands and the answer would be that more than half of all remaining habit for these large upland game birds is on our public lands in the Western U.S..  These birds, their leks and the the seas of sagebrush steppe are currently at risk because they are extremely sensitive to disturbances in their habitat

More and more private land owners in the West are taking action to provide and maintain critical habitat for the Greater Sage-Grouse while working in cooperation with Sage Grouse Initiative which is “a partnership-based, science-driven effort that uses voluntary incentives to proactively conserve America’s western rangelands, wildlife, and rural way of life.”

I applaud the efforts of the ranchers and the other private landowners to protect not just the birds but their habitat and support the actions of the Sage Grouse Initiative. They are shining examples of what can be done through partnerships and cooperation.

A ground-breaking bipartisan Greater Sage-Grouse conservation plan was reached and finalized in 2015 after nearly a decade of conversation, planning and actions which prevented the need to list the grouse Endangered Species Act plus it protected 67 million acres of habitat across 11 states for sage-grouse and 350 additional species.

Now that plan could be derailed by the current Interior Secretary putting these iconic birds at risk once again by opening up critical habitat to mining, oil and gas extraction industries.

Sometimes I wish I could enjoy viewing my photos of these Greater Sage-Grouse without worrying about their future, without being concerned that their sagebrush habitat is under threat of being destroyed and fragmented, and without wondering if my great grandchildren and all future generations will only know these magnificent, charismatic birds through images like my own.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

But today I can’t look at my Greater Sage-Grouse images without being concerned about their future on our public lands.

Mia

8 Comments

  1. Ken Schneider February 22, 2018 at 3:57 am

    It is ironic that the private landowners get it right while those who represent us ignore the truth.

  2. Laura Culley February 21, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Utahbooklover, would that it were going to be only one step back. But it’s not only sage grouse. So many of our public lands are at risk. Makes me see red! This land is YOUR land. This land is MY land. We need to remember that and fight for it!

  3. Pepe Forte February 21, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Good old TR got it right. Over 100 years ago he saw it coming. Hopefully his message has not been lost. Excellent narrative Mia. Thanks.

  4. Utahbooklover February 21, 2018 at 10:10 am

    Thanks for the interesting post. Under the Obama administration is was two steps forward,
    but I’m afraid under the Thrump administration (let’s hope it’s only) one step back.

    • Utahbooklover February 22, 2018 at 7:05 pm

      “The Department of Interior employs around 70,000 people and oversees a broad array of federal programs, from land management agencies like the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service to relationships with tribal nations through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In his first address to employees last March, newly minted Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told department workers that a major overhaul of the department was in the works. Now, the details of Zinke’s plans are coming into view as he prepares to pitch his plan to Congress.”

      Read more: https://www.hcn.org/articles/public-lands-a-new-structure-for-the-department-of-the-interior-takes-shape?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email

      • Laura Culley February 22, 2018 at 11:27 pm

        Yeah, I read that. DARGH!

  5. Kathy February 21, 2018 at 6:47 am

    I am sharing your posts so that more people will be aware. Thank you for your vigilance

  6. Tim traver February 21, 2018 at 6:28 am

    I hear you. When the leaders work against their own mission all the past good work feels at risk. Stewardship work never ends. Here’s to the good work, past present future

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