Photo: Bob Wick, BLM

Bi-State sage-grouse on the border of California and Nevada are a genetically distinct population of sage-grouse, and are a beloved species here in the Eastern Sierra. These iconic ambassadors of the sagebrush ecosystem are considered an “umbrella species” because their populations tend to indicate the health of the overall sagebrush ecosystem. Because the Bi-State population is small and isolated, they have had a long history of listing decision petitions under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

Sage-grouse live on many of our conservation easements and over the years, our team here at Eastern Sierra Land Trust has taken part in different conservation projects to improve their habitat on the Eastside, working closely with volunteers, landowners, and conservation partners such as Sage Grouse Initiative, Audubon Society, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

During the past eight years, ESLT has utilized federal and state funding to complete six permanent conservation easements totaling 10,725 acres, protecting enormous amounts of sage-grouse habitat from ever being subdivided or developed.

Northern California District Court Ruling

Amy Sturgill, the Bi-State Sage-Grouse Data and Communications Coordinator, has provided an update on the recent decision by the Northern California District Court:

In 2020, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service completed an analysis of the best available science and concluded that successful implementation of the Bi-State Conservation Action Plan, as well as future commitments from the Bi-State Collaborative, were sufficient to alleviate threats to sage-grouse and ensure Bi-State populations were sustained into the future. However, in May, the U.S District Court overturned the Service’s withdrawal of a proposed ESA listing for Bi-State sage-grouse. As a result, a proposed threatened status is reinstated and 1.8 million acres in the Eastern Sierra is again considered proposed critical habitat. The USFWS is required to evaluate the species once again and to provide an updated listing decision. A timeline has not yet been established but up-to-date information can be found at as it becomes available.

Learn more about the Bi-State sage-grouse conservation effort here.

Read the recent court ruling here.