Monday, March 21, 2011

Sage Grouse Without Sagebrush

Imagine you just received a burn on your arm—not a serious one, but enough to cause some discomfort. While painful, you’d probably not worry about it too much. Your arm would recover and you’d be fine. If you’re healthy, that is.

If you’re already suffering from an illness, or have a comprised immune system, that simple burn could be enough to threaten your life.

Habitat is the same way. Healthy habitat is able to withstand the normal fluctuations and dramatic events that occur: flood, fire, predators, disease, invasive species.

If the habitat is not healthy, such factors could threaten the entire ecosystem.

Fire is a part of sagebrush habitat. But today, a burn in sagebrush habitat is often like a burn to a person with a comprised immune system.

The fire typically starts a cycle of non-native grasses like cheatgrass, which are prone to fire and cause hotter blazes. These repeated burns harm and eventually eliminate sagebrush habitat.

Sage grouse without sagebrush are like fish without water. The grouse need sagebrush and native plants for every stage of their life cycle.

That’s why The Nature Conservancy is working to keep habitat healthy, so that sagebrush country remains home to grouse and other wildlife—and can better withstand periodic fires.

Your support enables the Conservancy to work in places that still have excellent, healthy sagebrush-steppe habitat—the Pioneer Mountains, the Owyhee Canyonlands and the Crooked Creek area.

We’ve also developed innovative tools to help range managers select the places and methods where conservation can accomplish the most for sagebrush habitat. And we’re restoring areas with degraded habitat.

Your support is critical to these efforts. They’re truly keeping sage grouse (and other wildlife) in the sagebrush.

Image of fire near Silver Creek Preserve, Dayna Gross/TNC. Image of sage grouse, Bob Griffith.

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