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Oregon ranchers offered grants to aid sage grouse habitat


USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has financial and technical assistance now available to help Oregon ranchers improve sage grouse habitat in Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Lake, Malheur and Union counties.

The funding will help landowners perform a variety of rangeland health conservation practices, such as removing invasive juniper trees and other conifers, treating exotic annual grasses, and addressing other threats to stabilize or improve rangeland ecological conditions.

The funding is available to landowners interested in pursuing a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances, or CCAA. CCAAs offer protection from future regulatory requirements should the greater sage grouse be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

“NRCS conservation programs give landowners the tools and financial assistance they need to successfully implement the conservation measures identified in their site-specific plans,” said Kevin Conroy, NRCS basin team leader. “Together, NRCS and its partners will work closely with private landowners to plan and design conservation treatments to improve sage grouse habitat and overall rangeland health.”

Funding is limited to landowners within sage grouse habitat areas (see map).
Interested landowners should submit applications to their local USDA Service Center by Aug. 28 to be considered for this current round of funding.

This funding is part of a new five-year project selected for funding this year though USDA’s highly-competitive Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Collectively, this project aims to improve sage grouse habitat across 3.4 million acres of privately-owned lands in Eastern Oregon.

NRCS will invest $9 million in the project over the next five years, and partners are matching that investment dollar-to-dollar, for a total investment of $18 million.

The lead partner for this project is the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts.

Other collaborating partners include: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Bureau of Land Management; Oregon State University; USDA Agriculture Research Service; Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board; State of Oregon Governor’s Office; Oregon Department of Agriculture; The Nature Conservancy; Baker Valley Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD); Crook County SWCD; Ft. Rock-Silver Lake SWCD; Harney SWCD; Lakeview SWCD; Burnt River SWCD; Eagle Valley SWCD; Grant SWCD; Keating SWCD; Malheur County SWCD; and the county courts of: Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Lake, Malheur.

For more information, contact a local USDA Service Center in the following counties:

Oregon USDA Service Centers within Sage Grouse Core Habitat Areas:

Baker County: Misty Bennett, District Conservationist, 541-523-7121.
Crook and Deschutes County: Tom Bennett, District Conservationist, 541-923-4358.
Grant County: Lorraine Vogt, District Conservationist, 541-575-0135.
Harney County: Zola Ryan, District Conservationist, 541-573-6446.
Lake County: Max Corning, District Conservationist, 541-947-2367.
Malheur County: Lynn Larsen, District Conservationist, 541-889-9689.
Union County: Mike Burton, District Conservationist, 541-963-4178.

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