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Nevada Rancher: Helping Sage-Grouse Helps Us All

Sage GrouseAUSTIN, Nev. - Private landowners and conservationists in Nevada and several other Western states continue to work together to try to prevent the sage-grouse from being listed as an endangered species.

Duane Coombs, manager of the 250,000-acre Smith Creek Ranch near Austin, Nevada, is among those working to improve sage-grouse habitat on the public and private lands he ranches.

"My rangelands are healthier, my cattle are healthier, sage-grouse are healthier," Coombs says. "When we make our rangelands better and our soils better, and focus on that, then everything else is happier."

Coombs says he's been working in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies for over a decade on brush thinning, grazing management and other practices to improve habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to issue a decision on whether to list sage-grouse as an endangered or threatened species later this year.

Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Jason Weller has been working for years with private landowners to protect greater sage-grouse habitat. He says ranchers realize it also helps their business.

"Over the last four or five years, you have thousands of ranchers across 11 western states willingly making investments, in all cases out of their own pockets, that will help their management of their rangelands and pastures," says Weller. "But also have positive impacts for sage-grouse and more than 350 other species."

Weller is among those attending the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference this week in Omaha where sage-grouse protections are being discussed.

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