Wednesday, April 8, 2015

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Over $1 Million in Funding Available to Improve Sage Grouse Habitat in Idaho

Boise – Farmers and ranchers interested in improving sage-grouse habitat in Idaho have a second opportunity to apply for funding this year.  The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service  has approximately $1.2 million in Sage-Grouse Initiative funding available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.  Applications must be received by May 29, 2015.  

Sage-grouse have experienced a significant decline in population over several decades due to a number of factors, such as land fragmentation, invasive species, unsustainable grazing systems, and conifer encroachment.  These birds are highly dependent on sagebrush for food and cover, requiring habitat throughout the year for nesting, brood-rearing, and over-wintering. 

“Many of the known threats to sage-grouse are the same factors that impact the sustainability and productivity of Idaho’s grazing lands,” said Ron Brooks, Idaho NRCS EQIP manager.  “Participating in SGI is a great way for farmers and ranchers to simultaneously improve habitat for sage-grouse and the sustainability of their agricultural lands.” 

Several Idaho ranchers are already using SGI to proactively improve sage-grouse habitat along with conditions on their rangeland.  Some of these projects include:

-          Developing or modifying grazing systems to improve cover for birds and forage availability for livestock.
-          Controlling noxious or invasive herbaceous species and/or improving plant diversity to improve cover, increase forage resources, and promote chick survival.
-          Marking or moving fences in high-risk areas to reduce sage-grouse collisions and mortality.
-          Removing encroached conifers in sagebrush communities to improve habitat for sage-grouse and other wildlife species while increasing available forage for livestock.

Eligible applications received by May 29, 2015 will be ranked and considered for funding.  For more information on the initiative, contact your local NRCS field office or visit our Web site at http://www.id.nrcs.usda.gov and click on the Landscape Initiatives link under the Programs heading. 

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