New Scientific Framework Guides Conserving the Sage

Wyoming buffalo basinOur Partnering to Conserve Sagebrush Rangelands effort catalyzes proactive, voluntary, and community-led sagebrush rangeland conservation across public and private lands. We accomplish this by promoting healthy working lands in the American West for people and wildlife. By bringing a diversity of perspectives, values, and resources together for a common purpose, partners achieve durable conservation.

An unprecedented conservation effort is underway across 11 Western states to address threats to sagebrush ecosystems and the many species that depend on them. The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior has released the Science Framework for Conservation and Restoration of the Sagebrush Biome (Part 2)The Science Framework provides a transparent, ecologically responsible approach for making policy and management decisions for sagebrush landscapes. 

The Framework provides an approach for making policy and management decisions for sagebrush landscapes.

“For the first time, we have the ability to prioritize conservation and restoration efforts in those areas where they will provide the greatest ecological benefits and return on investment,” said Jeanne Chambers, a lead author with the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. “New science increases our understanding of the factors that make these expansive ecosystems resilient to disturbances like wildfire and invasive annual grasses.”

The Science Framework is designed to be used by the managers in the field who implement conservation and restoration activities. Key resource topics covered in Part 2 are monitoring and adaptive management, climate adaptation, wildfire and vegetation management, nonnative invasive plant management, application of National Seed Strategy concepts, livestock grazing management, and wild horse and burro considerations.

“The information provided in Part 2 helps managers identify specific project areas and determine management strategies and tools to achieve conservation and restoration objectives,” said Michele Crist, a lead author with the Bureau of Land Management.

It is anticipated that the core concepts and approaches in the Science Framework will be widely used to inform emerging strategies to conserve sagebrush ecosystems, sagebrush-dependent wildlife species, and ecosystem services, such as forage for livestock and recreational opportunities. The Science Framework has already been used by the USDA Forest Service to develop fire risk assessments for all Forest Service lands with Greater sage-grouse. Its concepts were also incorporated into the Department of the Interior’s Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy and have been used to develop a multi-year program of work for Bureau of Land Management lands in the western part of the sagebrush biome.

“This important Science Framework provides Western land managers – federal, state, local, tribal and private – with leading-edge, science-based tools to proactively conserve America’s sagebrush ecosystem and its rich wildlife, economic, and cultural resources,” said Lief Wiechman, co-author with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.