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Oregon Sage-Grouse Mitigation Program

Since the late 1990’s, many western states have documented declining greater sage-grouse populations.  In 2005, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) increased conservation efforts by drafting a sage-grouse conservation and management plan.  Updated in 2011, the Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Assessment and Strategy set the biological foundation for long-term sage-grouse conservation in Oregon.  It provides improved science-based information and management direction on sage-grouse, their populations, foreseeable threats, and conservation efforts.

Upon being petitioned to list sage-grouse as threated and endangered, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued a warranted but precluded finding in 2010 with a proposal to reevaluate in 5 years.   After unprecedented collaboration and conservation efforts to address threats to sage-grouse across eleven western states, the USFWS determined in 2015 that sage-grouse were not warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act.  As part of the conservation effort, Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 15-18 in 2015, which formally adopted the Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Assessment and Strategy, recognized the Sage-grouse Conservation Partnership (SageCon) as an important decision-making body, and created Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) and a statewide action plan for addressing future conservation of sage-grouse in Oregon. The Sage-Grouse Mitigation Program (Mitigation Program) is a product of Oregon’s sage-grouse conservation efforts and addresses the threat of increasing development pressure in sage-grouse habitat.   

Responsible economic development is important to the long-term social and economic vitality of rural communities and promotes rangeland health.  Proposed development projects in sage-grouse habitat that require a county or state permit and are identified as a conflicting use, as outlined in OAR 660-023-0115(7), must coordinate with the Mitigation Program to ensure the Mitigation Hierarchy outlined in both OAR 660-023-0115 and OAR 635-140-0025 has been achieved.      

The Mitigation Program was designed to coordinate with developers to best site and design proposed development projects in sage-grouse habitat in order to reduce negative impacts.  This is accomplished through implementation of a mitigation hierarchy that includes avoidance, minimization, and mitigation.  Early coordination between project proponents and the Mitigation Program is essential to ensure that projects are sited to achieve the avoidance standard of the mitigation hierarchy.  Once appropriately sited, the Mitigation Program assesses the construction, operation, and decommissioning impact of the project to determine options for minimizing negative project effects to sage-grouse.  Upon a project proponent selecting appropriate and feasible minimization measures, the Mitigation Program will identify any residual project impacts to sage-grouse and calculate a compensatory mitigation requirement to offset loss of sage-grouse habitat.

The Mitigation Program and associated components thereof were created through a highly collaborative process with SageCon to promote stakeholder input and buy-in.  This collaborative effort has resulted in the creation of Mitigation Program tools, including the Development Siting Tool and Habitat Quantification Tool, and Program guidance document (Greater Sage-Grouse Habitat Operations and Administrative Manual) to ensure that the process of Sage-Grouse Mitigation Program coordination with project proponents and project impact assessment is predictable, transparent, science-based, and equitable.

DST SiteDevelopment Siting Tool (DST)

The DST is a user-friendly, web-based tool designed to help permittees minimize development impacts to sage-grouse habitat and reduce their mitigation responsibility while gaining a better understanding of the ODFW sage-grouse mitigation rules.

This tool provides maps showing the relative mitigation liability across the range of sage-grouse in Oregon based on the best available spatial data depicting existing development and habitat condition.

It also allows permittees to input potential project sites and provides customized information about the area, including the indirect impacts, habitat designation(s), relevant contacts, and potential mitigation requirements for avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation. Link to the DST.

Sage-grouse Mitigation Program Documents

The Greater Sage-Grouse Habitat Operations and Administrative Manual provides a comprehensive explanation of Mitigation Program components, including credit generation, development project assessment and mitigation calculation, and requirements for principles and standards for mitigation.

Sage-grouse Mitigation Program Habitat Quantification Tool

The Habitat Quantification Tool (HQT) supports the Sage-Grouse Mitigation Program to conserve sage-grouse habitat and avoid, minimize, and compensate for development impacts to sage-grouse habitat in Oregon.  This tool is a science-based method for quantifying habitat function and conservation outcomes for sage-grouse.  The HQT was primarily developed to measure projected outcomes of both new development and habitat restoration projects and to help target siting of credit and debit projects in the most beneficial locations for sage-grouse. The following documents provide information on HQT design and how it is used to determine project mitigation responsibilities.

Applicable Administrative Rules

Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) Goal 5 Greater Sage-Grouse Rules (OAR 660-023-0115) identify when a development is considered a conflicting use in sage-grouse habitat and requires compliance with the mitigation hierarchy and ODFW’s Sage-grouse Mitigation Program and policy.

ODFW Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Strategy (OAR 635-140-0000 – 0025) rules identify sage-grouse habitat, target population objectives, and mitigation hierarchy with specific information regarding mitigation.

Important Resources

Oregon Statewide Sage-Grouse Conservation Plans and GIS Data, which include the Oregon Sage-Grouse Conservation Assessment and Strategy, Sage-Grouse Action Plan, GIS Data, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Planning Documents

State of Oregon and BLM 2019 Memorandum of Agreement (pdf) outlines the steps each agency will take to ensure the State’s Sage-Grouse Mitigation Program operates in accordance with state and federal laws on BLM managed lands.

Sage-grouse core area and low density map (pdf) identifies significant sage-grouse habitat as core areas, low density, and general habitat as outlined in OAR 635-140-0002.

Sage-grouse mitigation service areas (pdf) group significant sage-grouse habitat into defined geographic locations, within which mitigation actions shall occur for a given development impact in sage-grouse habitat.

Sage-grouse Partner Websites   Sage-Grouse Conservation Partnership (SageCon)

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