The sagebrush lands of America’s mountain west span the Continental Divide, the Great Basin, Columbia River Basin and Wyoming Basin. The landmass known as the Sagebrush Sea covers parts of ten states and approximately 150 million acres. It is one of the most extensive ecosystems in North America.
Everyone has his or her own vision of the American west – in our mind’s eye we ride on horseback, traveling an unbroken mountain valley under an impossibly blue sky, we see a fly fisherman’s back cast sparkling in the setting sun, rafters riding a wild and scenic river, hikers traveling a ribbon of discovery. We face the setting sun to feel the last warmth of the day and breathe in the intoxicating aroma of sage after a rain. This is the land of endless views to jagged mountain ranges, solitude, and wildlife in staggering numbers and variety. Or is it?
The American west is disappearing at an alarming rate.
Vast natural gas, coal bed methane, oil, and oil shale reserves have led to an industrial boom that threatens air, water, recreation and wildlife across the region. Rapid development, habitat fragmentation, and climate change have exacerbated the threats to wildlife. The 6,000-year Grand Teton pronghorn migration and winter range are severely threatened. Greater sage grouse and Gunnison sage grouse are both endangered and could face extinction if habitat fragmentation continues at the current rate. Mule deer and sage obligate birds - Brewer's sparrow, sage sparrow and sage thrasher are in steep decline - indicators that energy development is not sustainable at the current rate. Humans are paying a heavy price in polluted air and water; small towns like Pinedale, Wyoming are becoming “oil towns”, while hunters, fishermen, hikers and birders see open lands being carved up or destroyed. The western way of life is vanishing with every acre lost. The sage steppe has become one of the most endangered ecosystems on earth.
My "Sage Spirit" conservation book project is planned for conservation of wild habitat and wildlife throughout the Intermountain West. I am working with and developconservation leaders in the West to link important habitat and preserve wild lands for the future. It is time to develop energy responsibly and recognize that some places are simply too wild to drill. Please contact me directly for more information about Sage Spirit.