August 2015 Newsletter
Partners for Conservation

USDA Roundtable and Sage Grouse Initiative 2.0
As the clock ticks down on the final decision on whether or not to list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture just renewed their commitment to private lands conservation through the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI). At a press event and roundtable in Portland, Oregon on August 27, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released the new strategic plan for sage grouse conservation in the 11 western states through 2018. The continuation of the Sage Grouse Initiative is a critical step to maintain the proactive relationship between federal agencies, landowners and other partners across the West. Partners for Conservation board member Terry Mansfield and Oregon rancher John O’Keefe participated in the roundtable along with 20 plus other partners including local, state and federal agencies, political leaders, landowners and nongovernmental organizations that have been key to the work of SGI.
“The diversity of groups represented at the roundtable truly captured the collaborative nature of the Sage Grouse Initiative and demonstrated the power and potential of public-private partnerships to sustain both rural communities and wildlife particularly those in the West that require both public and private land to survive.” Mansfield said.
The plan released today, known as SGI 2.0, maintains the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) engagement on this incredibly successful public/private partnership giving farmers and ranchers the certainty that their efforts to restore and conserve sagebrush habitat will continue. Through 2018, NRCS will invest an additional $211 million in SGI with the goal of improving an additional 3 million acres of western rangelands. The long term commitment will be a critical component to ensure that ranchers can stay engaged in sage grouse conservation efforts on private lands. It also shows that these conservation efforts will continue regardless of the September Endangered Species listing decision
Over 1,100 individual ranches have been actively engaged on SGI projects and seen significant improvements on their ranches to date. An SGI Report, Success on the Range, released in July documents the many successes of these collaborations on private lands. 

Partners for Conservation in Minnesota

In August, Partners for Conservation was provided an opportunity to present the organization to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) meeting of staff primarily assigned to Wetland Management Districts, Waterfowl Production Areas and other units of the National Wildlife Refuge System from USFWS Region 3 and Region 6 which include the prairie pothole region.  PFC Vice Chair Jim Faulstich (South Dakota) and executive director Steve Jester providing an overview of the organization and then answered questions from the attendees. The venue was a natural for Partners for Conservation as the Prairie Pothole Region has a long history of public-private partnership and engagement of private landowners in the development and delivery of conservation programs.  Partners for Conservation is looking forward to more engagement in the prairie potholes as well as throughout USFWS Regions 3 and 6!
Private Lands Partners Day 2015
Registration Closes September 4!

Registration for Private Land Partners Day 2015 to held September 22-25 in North Platte Nebraska is open for just a bit longer.  Partners for Conservation is proud to present this eighth annual national gathering this year in cooperation with the Sandhills Task Force, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and a growing list of other partners.  You can register for the meeting at the Sandhills Task Force website here.