Today, the Western Values Project released its Sagebrush Landscape Report, detailing the important contributions of sagebrush habitats to the economies of five regions across the West. The report follows the recently-released Department of Interior plans to protect the Greater sage-grouse as critical not only for sage-grouse populations, but also for the livelihoods in the West that rely on intact sagebrush habitat to thrive, such as recreation and farming.
The report comes just before Governors from across the West meet with Sec. of the Interior Sally Jewell tomorrow at the annual Western Governors’ Association conference to discuss the wide variety of issues facing the west. It is vital that they are reminded of the strong economic impact of a healthy, conserved, and working sagebrush landscape. Continued collaboration and cooperation between Sec. Jewell and Western Governors is essential in order to implement the sage-grouse land management plans in a timely fashion, and conserve the ecosystem and the western economies that depend on them.
The report examined the following five priority landscapes: The Hart-Sheldon region (OR, UT), Lost River region (ID), the Bear River Valley region (ID, UT, WY), the Greater Dinosaur region (CO, UT), and the Clarks Fork region (MT, WY). On average, 1 out of 5 jobs across five priority landscapes depend on a healthy sage grouse habitat, according to the new report.
The report finds that tourism and recreation across the sagebrush landscape in these five locations supports over 23,000 jobs, or 20% of all jobs in these regions. The sagebrush landscape is also an important supporter of farming and ranching livelihoods, with one in ten jobs across three of the five landscapes coming from agriculture that relies on intact landscapes to operate.
It’s clear from this report that Westerners need these sage-grouse conservation plans just as much as the sage-grouse does. The economic contributions of intact sagebrush—something that’s getting rarer and rarer in the West—are too big to ignore. We’re on the right track with these BLM plans, as well as the collaborative efforts of western stakeholders on the ground. Now, it’s time to take these conservation measures across the finish line and strengthen western economies.
Read the full report here.