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Glasgow Meeting I

Meeting Summary
Glasgow Sage Grouse Local Working Group
January 7, 2004

Welcome/Introduction

Anne Cossitt, Cossitt Consulting, introduced herself and team member, Barb Beck. The team of Cossitt, Beck, and Susan Bury has been hired by the Sage Grouse Working Group to convene and assist local working groups in three locations, Dillon, Miles City, and Glasgow. The purpose of the local working groups is to discuss and determine what actions can be taken to benefit sage grouse and sagebrush habitat. The meeting participants then introduced themselves.

Background Information

Barb Beck explained that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has received a number of petitions asking them to list the Sage Grouse as either a threatened or endangered species. She explained the listing process and the fact that a 90-day finding on whether there is enough information in the petition to consider listing is due out from the FWS in January. Beck went on to explain that because of habitat losses and declines in sage grouse populations, 11 western states, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service had entered into an agreement to prepare plans for each state. She familiarized the group with the contents of the Management Plan and Conservation Strategies for Sage Grouse in Montana.

Copies of the local working group charter were passed out. Cossitt went over the charter explaining the goals of the groups, timeframes, products, roles, and expectations. She asked the participants to consider making a commitment to attend as many meetings as possible so that the group is as productive as possible.

Discussion

The meeting was opened up to comments and participants were asked to express concerns and observations. The following comments were offered:

  • Bird populations cycle naturally. CRP has also had impacts
  • Populations are affected by predatorseagles, skunks
  • Recreation and hunting are impacts on birds
  • Who makes the TES listing decision?
  • Our "plans" and actions can be different from the other groups
  • BLM has been doing habitat transectsdetailed data available on habitat quality, trends
  • BLM may have some project funds, focusing on North Valley County
  • West Nile losses of birds is one of several factors that are out of our control. Weather is another. Hunting and predators are things we do have some control over. We need to look at anything that causes loss of birds. Look at everything together.
  • What do sage grouse require for habitat? Do we know that for sure? Predators, including bull snakes, take a lot of sage grouse.
  • Monitoring protocol will include sampling over time to get at distribution and state-wide abundance.
  • When sagebrush/grasslands disappear, sage grouse disappear. We need to conserve what we have.
  • Numbers are healthy here, in some other places habitat is disappearing and it will probably continue (Colorado front range).
  • Habitat goal is no net loss overall so we may lose it in one place, gain it in another
  • Local knowledge about birds is important to the process.
  • Sagebrush is not the only food source, but it is important in the winter. Sage grouse were found in same areas as wild horses in the past (when there was little food supply for sage grouse, they were seen to eat horse manure)
  • This year was a good one for grouse up here (wet spring)
  • Some interests are lining up against landowners on this issue.
  • Need to correlate weather conditions with bird populations, also predator impacts (golden eagles)
  • Agriculture has made water available, grouse were around and using stock watering facilities this past year when things were dry
  • Livestock industry/ranching is much of the reason that we have such a good situation with sage grouse and sage brush.
  • Natural weather events take a toll (floods, cloudbursts, etc.)
  • Many factors influence reproduction and survival of the birds, changes from year to year
  • Agricultural producers are uncomfortable with the idea that we in this good area have to make up for problems elsewhere. We have been doing a good job, what more is expected of us? Dont want unrealistic goals, also dependent on leases on federal lands.
    Impacts of fire on sagebrush (fire instead of grazing), grazing takes care of decadent grass without fire.

Wrap-up

Anne thanked all of those who attended the meeting recognizing how valuable their time is. She informed the participants that the meeting summary from this and future meetings would be e-mailed to those who have provided e-mail addresses and also posted on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website. The group selected Wednesday, March 3, 2004, at 3 p.m. for their next meeting. A news release will be put out closer to the date to remind people. Dates and locations of meetings will also be posted on the FWP website.

Participants

Rick Adams
John Arnold
Chuck Carlson
Lee Cornwell
Paul Cornwell
Diane Dirkson
Randy Dirkson
Jim Engstrom
Sever Enkerud
Sam Espeland
John Fahlgren
Daniel Gerike
Mark Goetz
Pat Gunderson
Tammy James
Verlin Koenig
Maxine Korman
Robert Magnan
Jack McCuin
Jim McIntyre
Rick Northrup
Jeff Pattison
Fritz Prellwitz
Ryan Raushcer
Dave Reinhardt
Hoyt Richards
Jim Satterfield
Larry See
Rose Stoneberg
Monty Sullins
Mark Sullivan
Jeff Swanson
Leonard Swenson
Harold Wentland