USFWS: Eight species of concern to benefit from voluntary agreements

A sage thrasher. (Photo by Tom Koerner, USFWS)

This week, conservation partners gathered in Cheyenne, Wyo., to recognize individuals who have spent over 15 years working to finalize one of the largest voluntary agreements in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service history.

Covering 13.2 million acres across the sagebrush and shortgrass prairie ecosystems in Campbell, Converse, Crook, Niobrara and Weston counties, a recently finalized conservation strategy will support continued economic growth through proactive habitat conservation across public and private lands, according to a release by the USFWS.

Eight species of conservation concern, including the sagebrush sparrow, Brewer’s sparrow, sage thrasher, black-tailed prairie dog, mountain plover, burrowing owl, Ferruginous hawk, and the legendary greater sage-grouse, will benefit from the agreement.

According to the USFWS release, the conservation strategy was spearheaded by the Thunder Basin Grasslands Prairie Ecosystem Association, a grassroots organization representing local ranchers and energy producers. It utilizes a suite of voluntary tools offered by the USFWS, including:

  • A candidate conservation agreement to guide conservation actions on federal lands.
  • A candidate conservation agreement with Assurances to facilitate actions on non-federal lands, including private rangelands.
  • A conservation agreement to address activities associated with foreseeable energy development that may in the future involve a federal permit or other authorization.

Participants include the Thunder Basin association, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the USFWS. Learn more at

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