Here 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
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.