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Sagebrush Market Ready to Open

Sat, May 23, 2015

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Rancher T. Wright Dickinson surveys sage grouse habitat on his cattle’s summer range. (JZ)

Rancher T. Wright Dickinson surveys sage grouse habitat on his cattle’s summer range. (JZ)

The greater sage grouse lives amid sagebrush rangelands on more than 78 million acres across the West, but overgrazing, subdivisions and sprawl, and energy drilling and development has resulted in massive sagebrush loss and fragmentation in recent decades.

With the bird under consideration as an endangered species, a government listing could cost $5 billion in annual economic activity. That has ranchers and others in Colorado and elsewhere are figuring out how they can create a sagebrush marketplace that could make protecting and restoring sagebrush and grouse a money maker.

For my April 2015 story, “In the Sagebrush Marketplace, A New Way to Protect Species,” for Yale: Environment 360, I visited the high country of northwestern Colorado to figure out just what a sagebrush bazaar looks like and how it might help both grouse and ranchers.

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