Wyoming Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan
Tags: WLCI Related Publication
In the second half of the 20th Century, numbers of greater sage-grouse (Centrocerucus urophasianus), referred to as sage-grouse throughout this plan, have declined throughout their range. The causes of the decline have not been quantified.
In 2000, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) designated the Upper Columbia populations (Washington State) of the western greater sage-grouse (Centrocerucus urophasianus phaios) as candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., due to their limited distribution and population numbers. The candidate designation means that listing is warranted, but is precluded by higher priority actions. In March 2003, the Service determined that the western subspecies was not warranted for listing. In addition, the Gunnison sage- grouse (C. minimus), a closely related sagebrush obligate in western Colorado and eastern Utah, has also been designated as a candidate for listing under the Act. On December 26, 2002, the Service published a notice of negative finding for a petition received on the Mono Basin population (CA/NV) of the greater sage-grouse, as the petitioner was not able to definitively identify a distinct population segment. The Service has received petitions to list the greater sage-grouse across its entire range. While no decisions have been made on these petitions, litigation is pending.
People involved in the sage-grouse issue have initiated conservation planning efforts focused on outlining what is required to sustain or perpetuate populations. Wyoming elected to create this comprehensive statewide document, with locally developed plans to follow. Parties involved in the initial statewide effort included: agricultural, industrial, governmental, environmental, hunting, and Native American tribal interests.
The Wyoming strategy focuses on implementation by local working groups. In the absence of plans developed at local levels, goals and tasks and Recommended Management Practices (RMPs) found in this plan should guide planning and management efforts.
Using the concepts of rangeland health as a management philosophy (National Academy of Sciences 1994) should lead to a more balanced rangeland ecosystem, including a mosaic of seral stages beneficial to the greater sage-grouse.