Idaho endowment lands provide habitat for sage grouse

Friday April 10, 2020

Concerns about long-term declines in sage grouse populations and habitat prompted unprecedented large-scale efforts in Idaho and other western states in recent years to conserve the species while continuing land-use activities.

For the Idaho Department of Lands, that means balancing sage grouse habitat conservation while also honoring Idaho’s constitutional mandate to maximize revenue generation on Idaho Endowment Lands. Endowment lands belong to state beneficiaries, which are primarily public schools.

Endowment land revenue is an important revenue source for educating our children. One source of revenue is money from leasing lands for livestock grazing.

Idaho Department of Lands Director Dustin Miller was formerly the Administrator of the Governor’s Office of Species Conservation. He brings expertise to creating the balance between sage grouse conservation on endowment land, while also maintaining livestock grazing opportunities on those lands.

“We are committed to meeting our constitutional mandate and the needs of our lessees, while taking steps to improve sage grouse habitat,” said Miller. “Some of that work includes removing juniper trees that encroach into sage grouse habitat, building fuel breaks, and rehabilitating areas after wildfires.”

Sage grouse mating season lasts from late March to early May, and counts happen once a week for four weeks in southwest Idaho. IDL is currently implementing a sage grouse conservation plan to maintain and improve habitat on endowment lands and boost forage quality for livestock.