I grew up in Forsyth and have ranched there for 15 years. As a young boy driving through the snow, I could practically see a sage-grouse under every sage bush; there were thousands of them for every quarter mile.
Today, the sage-grouse is a candidate species for Endangered Species Act protection. The Sage-Grouse Initiative is working hard to help ranchers voluntarily manage their resources to improve sage-grouse habitat, benefit their operation and keep the bird off the list.
Sound rangeland stewardship and healthy sage-grouse habitat are closely linked. Both need large range landscapes, native plant diversity, good grazing plans, active weed management, control of encroaching conifers, and productive sagebrush grasslands. Both are compromised by subdivisions, overgrazing, fragmentation from roads and power lines and infestations of club moss and blue grama.
It is important that we keep control of sage-grouse management at the local level. We must form strong working partnerships with private landowners who voluntarily maintain healthy wildlife populations. Montana's ranchers have established a legacy of pristine rangelands and are critical to restoring our sage-grouse numbers.
What is good for livestock is good for sage-grouse.
Montana Association of