IWJV’s Conservation Approaches

Our Vision: An Intermountain West where people, birds, and other wildlife thrive.

The IWJV philosophy can simply be described as a deep recognition that people are fundamental to the story of conservation in the West. People dedicated to working lands, both public and private, compose a huge part of our organizational landscape and are core to our everyday functions. Keystone tenets of the IWJV include finding common ground with others, using science to build durable conservation, and strengthening conservation through a lens of relevancy to people.

The IWJV focuses on wetlands and the waters that support them, sagebrush ecosystems, and forests, habitats that collectively encompass the majority of the Intermountain West and support a multitude of bird species. These habitats need collaborative conservation efforts to address their pressing threats: wetlands are drying; sagebrush ecosystems are being impacted by invasive annual grasses, encroaching conifers, and large-scale wildfires; and forests have degraded structure and function contributing to larger and more severe fires. Our approach to this work will stay consistent: commitment to working lands and the people who steward them, and support of land management practices that sustain bird habitat in a voluntary, non-regulatory manner.

Investments in Natural Infrastructure to Address Climate Change

As climate change continues to reduce snowpack, alter the timing of snowmelt and peak flows, increase the frequency and duration of droughts, and alter fire regimes in the Intermountain West, innovative climate solutions that support the resilience of wildlife habitat and human communities are needed. The wetlands, sagebrush rangelands, and forests of the Intermountain West provide the natural infrastructure necessary to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change by sequestering carbon, providing resilient water supplies, and supporting rural livelihoods.

Water and Wetlands

Wet meadows on irrigated agricultural lands comprise the majority of the managed wetland habitat in snowpack-driven systems of the Intermountain West. These lands provide vital habitat for migratory birds, sustain floodplain function, and recharge aquifers, but are at risk of fragmentation from rural subdivision, competing water demands, and the ongoing impacts of climate change.

Sagebrush Rangelands

Millions of acres of sagebrush rangelands are vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire, annual invasives like cheatgrass, and conifer encroachment. These threats are the primary drivers of the loss of 1.3 million acres per year of sagebrush rangelands, with consequences to sagebrush obligates like Greater Sage-grouse and myriad ecosystem services.

Western Forests

The diverse forests of the Intermountain West range from arid, pinyon-juniper woodlands to moist, mixed conifer forests. They provide wildlife habitat, source much of the majority of the region’s freshwater, and sequester tremendous amounts of carbon. Changes in forest structure due to fire suppression, use patterns, and changes in fire regimes threaten many of the ecosystem services and are contributing to the declines of some forest birds

The Role of the IWJV in Strategic Working Lands Conservation

The most effective large-landscape scale conservation efforts involve voluntary, collaborative approaches across jurisdictional boundaries and scales through working lands conservation. This partnership approach is key to implementation of federal funding available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

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