IBAs and the Sagebrush Initiative
Audubon’s Important Bird Areas Program is part of a global effort to identify and conserve areas vital to birds and other biodiversity. It engages Audubon staff, chapter members and other volunteers to identify, monitor and steward critical habitat areas in and around their communities.
There are 158 Important Bird Areas in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Utah and the Dakotas – many of them home to the sage-grouse and other sagebrush species. Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park are among the well-known natural western treasures that are IBAs, but many of these special sites – which can be found on public and private lands – are smaller and much less well-known areas that do not enjoy the legal protection or fleet of wardens and rangers that work to patrol national parks and refuges. Stewardship often depends on local citizens, volunteers and land owners. Visit our Google Earth page to see how to explore the Important Bird Areas that are found in the geographic area of Audubon’s Sagebrush Initiative, or learn more about the IBA program throughout the US.
The following are a few of the most significant IBAs for Audubon’s Sagebrush Initiative:
The Shirley Basin IBA
Located southeast of Casper, WY, this sagebrush terrain's owners include the Bates Creek Cattle Company (BCCC), Two-Bar Headquarters, and Garrett Ranch, however the majority of the land is federally owned and falls under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM.) The Shirely Basin is important because it provides critical and large contiguous sagebrush habitat.
The Powder/Carter Sage-steppe IBA
Located in the southeastern corner of Montana, this IBA covers high-quality sagebrush steppe and prairie grasslands that support a significant population of Greater Sage-Grouse. Threats include potential energy development and current leases for energy exploration, including coal-bed methane and uranium.
The Gunnison Basin IBA
This Colorado site provides breeding, nesting, brood, and winter habitat for approximately 2,500 Gunnison Sage-Grouse, out of a total worldwide population of 4,000. It is the site of the only known secure population of the species. The American Ornithological Union recognized the Gunnison Sage-Grouse as a new species in their 2000 checklist.