ON-Lion Letter

With controversy growing around potential federal protection of the Greater sage grouse, the Sand County Foundation (SCF) in Madison, Wis., has published a collection of stories that demonstrate how ranchers in the West are working collaboratively to enhance critical sagebrush habitat where the increasingly rare bird lives.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is under court order to make its decision by September on whether the Greater sage grouse should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.  A decision to list the showy, chicken-sized bird could take a significant economic toll on states across the West.

With populations spanning 11 energy-rich and agriculture-intensive states, the sage grouse is an icon of the West.  By some estimates, its population has been reduced from millions to perhaps 500,000 today.  Sage grouse are predictors of good land health and of the presence of other native species across the West.  Pronghorn, mule deer, and hundreds of other plants and animals thrive in sagebrush habitat.

With a potential listing in the offing, determined ranchers have been working successfully in partnership with government and non-government conservation organizations through the innovative Sage Grouse Initiative to restore more than million acres of habitat.

SCF's Stories from the Range:  Ranching and Sage Grouse Conservation details the efforts of six ranching families that have actively and voluntarily engaged in successful habitat conservation on private lands across the range in Oregon, Utah, Nevada, California, Wyoming, and Idaho.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports SCF.

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