Intermountain Insight: A Case Study of the Bi-State

Intermountain Insights are a series of fact sheets that dive into recent research, distilling the findings for quick understanding and application.

On the California-Nevada border there is a genetically unique population of Greater Sage-grouse that lives in the far southwestern limit of the species’ range. Since 2002, Bi-State sage grouse, as they are informally known, have been petitioned for Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing several times. Although concerned for the species, many in the region feared the economic consequences of a listing on the industries their livelihoods depend upon: mining, agriculture, energy, and recreation.

Research led by the Intermountain West Joint Venture examines how a successful conservation effort known as the Bi-State Collaborative used the social-ecological systems (SES) approach to prevent an ESA listing of this specific sage grouse population. While no single case study can provide an exact formula for conservation success, this is a practical example of how the SES approach can help groups navigate tradeoffs between ecological and societal needs.

“My hope is that this study will continue to spur collaborative action, based on science, diverse perspectives, and shared vision to address at-risk species,” said Ali Duvall, lead author and IWJV’s Assistant Coordinator. “That’s how we can have success in addressing these massive challenges we’re facing.”

When studying the Bi-State Collaborative, researchers discovered that there were three main ingredients for conservation success that emerged. Find out what these ingredients are in this research summary: Intermountain Insight: A Case Study of Bi-State People and Sage Grouse