The Gunnison Sage-Grouse is a rare bird that was only recently discovered to be a species distinct from that of the Greater Sage-Grouse. Approximately 4,300 Gunnison Sage-Grouse are distributed over a narrow band of sagebrush and grassland valleys in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah.
Because of their small population, restricted distribution, and growing threats from energy exploration, residential development, and invasive exotic plants, this species ranks as one of the highest priorities among conservation groups and wildlife agencies in the United States. The population continues to decline and is extremely vulnerable to environmental events, such as drought.
NFWF's Gunnison Sage-Grouse Conservation Program was created in 2009 to work with private landowners and federal and state agencies to create healthier landscapes of sage-dominated grasslands for this species. Its goal is to increase Gunnison Sage-Grouse sub-populations by expanding existing available habitat.
Key conservation strategies for this program include:
- Enhancement of habitat through active management on public and private lands, including removal of invasive plants and re-establishment of native grasslands.
- Expansion of the existing range of sage-grouse through reintroductions
- Protection of parcels that serve as core habitat for re-establishment of viable populations
- Restoration of the connectivity of sub-populations through habitat protection and enhancement in order to increase dispersal capability, genetic diversity, and viability among the seven sub-populations.