The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA is the United States Department of Agriculture) is unveiling new action-based frameworks to increase conservation work to address threats facing America’s working rangelands. These frameworks are designed to benefit both agriculture and wildlife in sagebrush and grassland landscapes of the western United States.
“America’s iconic rangelands support ranchers and rural communities, provide wildlife habitat, and store carbon,” said Gloria Montaño Greene, USDA is the United States Department of Agriculture deputy undersecretary for food production and conservation. “Under these new frameworks, NRCS is the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service and grassroots partners will defend intact grasslands, reduce vulnerability to future threats and conserve the last remaining rangeland regions west of the Mississippi River. They provide a common vision and coordination to address resource concerns and ecosystem threats across state boundaries, and new scientific tools now provide unprecedented opportunities to develop strategic approaches to combat these issues, especially when combined with on-the-ground landowner and rancher expertise.”
In 2020, a multi-state planning effort produced the first biome-scale frameworks for wildlife conservation on working rangelands in grassland and sagebrush biomes. A biome is a large area of land that is classified based on the climate, plants and animals that make their homes there. This joint effort builds on past achievements of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken and Sage Grouse Initiatives that together have partnered with more than 3,261 ranchers and conserved 10,309,950 acres of working rangelands. This is an area more than four times the size of Yellowstone National Park that supports working agricultural operations while providing critical wildlife habitat and valuable carbon sequestration. New frameworks efforts will further support conservation and restoration of rangelands through practices that limit soil disturbance, support proper grazing management, promote the strategic use of prescribed fire and support native grassland species with deep root systems to increase grassland carbon stocks.