Gunnison Sage-Grouse

Gunnison sage-grouse
Photo by Bob Gress, www.BirdsinFocus.com

One of the 10 most endangered birds in North America

Gunnison sage-grouse once ranged widely across southwest Colorado and Utah but today they occupy just 10% of their historic range. With fewer than 5,000 of these birds remaining the Gunnison sage-grouse needs our help. Habitat loss from urban development, oil and gas drilling, mining, off-road vehicle use, and road construction threatens to push this species toward extinction.

Habitat loss from urban development and habitat degradation from oil and gas drilling, mining, off-road vehicle use, and road construction has taken and continues to take a heavy toll on this species. In 2014 the Gunnison sage-grouse was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

#StandWithGunny

Rocky Mountain Wild is working to protect two of the Gunnison sage-grouse’s most critical habitats by asking the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to designate over 38,000 acres as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). Research from the Conservation Science Partners indicates that these areas exhibit “some of the highest quality habitat – both in terms of core habitat and connectivity habitat.”

Visit our #StandWithGunny page to take action and protect Gunnison sage-grouse habitat.

Current Status

In 2014 the Gunnison sage-grouse was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The listing decision spurred several ongoing lawsuits.  On one side are conservation groups that argue that the species deservers “endangered” status, rather than “threatened.” On the other side, the State of Colorado is pushing back against the listing all together. As these suits work their way through the court system Rocky Mountain Wild is working to secure habitat protection through land planning processes at the BLM level including the Gunnison Sage-Grouse Rangewide Resource Management Plan, and the Tres Rios Resource Management Plan Amendment.

Gunnison Sage-Grouse Rangewide Resource Management Plan

Gunnison Sage-Grouse Rangewide Resource Management Plan

When the Gunnison sage-grouse was listed as a threatened species in 2014 it triggered the BLM to undertake a range-wide Resource Management Plan Amendment to provide a framework for protecting and restoring the species and its habitat. Through this process the BLM is reviewing its management of over 600,000 acres of sage-grouse habitat. A draft plan, released in August 2016, did not provide adequate protection for the species (see our press release here). We have submitted detailed comments on this and are waiting for the final plan to be released.

Tres Rios Resource Management Plan

Tres Rios Resource Management Plan

Rocky Mountain Wild nominated the Dry Creek Basin and Northdale areas for ACEC protection in 2007. Due to a procedural oversight, the BLM failed to consider protection of these areas in their 2013 Resource Management Plan. We protested, and in 2015 were notified that the BLM must evaluate these parcels for ACEC designation. RMW provided the BLM with detailed comments on theses parcels, and in the summer of 2017 we were notified that the parcels meet the criteria for ACEC designation. We are now waiting for the BLM to develop draft alternatives that we can react to.