Oregon is home to 1.8 million head of cattle, many of which graze on sagebrush grassland. But some of that same land is also home to the greater sage-grouse, which was named as a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act in 2011. The bird occupies about half of its historical range in the U.S. and Canada because of degradation to its habitat. In Oregon, juniper trees, wildfires, unmanaged grazing, and aggressive weeds have disturbed its ecosystem.
In an effort to preclude an ESA listing, Station and Extension faculty worked with landowners to develop voluntary agreements to conserve the species’ out-of-balance habitat. As part of this, AES researchers developed inventory and monitoring guidelines for landowners, whose cattle stand to benefit from the rangeland improvements. Much of the science that will be used to develop conservation plans is from long-term studies conducted at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center.