• Sage grouse GPS in southern Oregon

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    BLM & Oregon State University track birds to study conifer removal

    “Can you roll her a little bit,” one wildlife scientist whispers to the person holding the sage grouse.

    Under the light of a headlamp, a 30-gram GPS unit is affixed to the bird and shortly after that it is released back to the southern Oregon sagebrush.

    Since February, an Oregon State University study sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management has been searching for sage grouse in an effort to track their movements.

    The goal of attaching the “backpack style” GPS units, according to OSU graduate assistant Andrew Olsen, is to prove that the removal of juniper trees is “a good thing for grouse.”

    “We’re hoping to see it is beneficial,” said Olsen.

    The transmitters have a solar panel on them and automatically connect with satellites five times a day, a huge amount of data over time when compared to older VHF devices that recorded two locations a week, said Olsen.

    “It’s probably gonna take, maybe generations of birds to recolonize these areas -- where we know they were in the past,” said Olsen.

    Multiple government agencies, private landowners and others have been collaborating for years to improve habitat for the greater sage grouse, which is under consideration for being listed as an endangered species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is on deadline to make a listing decision by the end of September.

    According to the BLM, about half of the historic greater sage grouse habitat across the West has been lost.

    In the South Warner Mountains, not far from the Oregon borders with California and Nevada, the scientists search with a bright light at night, hoping for that moment when the eyes of a hiding grouse shine. Once spotted, they shake the light, causing the bird to freeze up, “like grouse in the headlights,” said Olsen.

    From then, coordinates are registered, the GPS unit is strapped on, an ankle bracelet is affixed and the bird is weighed -- an entire process that takes about 15 minutes.

    All while whispering in the dark sagebrush ecosystem.

    More information about BLM Oregon projects: http://www.blm.gov/or/index...

    Video captured in August, 2015, via BLM Lakeview

    Video & story by Toshio Suzuki Show less
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    While the BLM does manage a lot of cool wilderness areas, there's whole lot of other "wild" areas that we manage in Oregon and Washington. Join us this year as we celebrate the 15 year anniversary of the National Landscape Conservation System to explore all things wild, including: 128 units totaling 3.4 million acres. This translates to: 85 Wilderness Study Areas in Oregon (over 2.6 million acres) and one WSA in Washington (5,700 acres); 25 Wild & Scenic River segments (over 800 miles) in Oregon; 2 National Historic Trails (The Oregon Trail – 22 miles, and the California Trail – 2 miles) and one National Scenic Trail (Pacific Crest Trail – 42 miles); 8 Wilderness Areas in Oregon (nearly 247,000 acres) and 1 Wilderness Area in Washington (over 7,000 acres); and 1 National Monument in Oregon, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument (53,000 acres), and 1 in Washington, the San Juan Islands National Monument (1,000 acres). Whew. That's a lot of cool stuff!

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    With the passage of the Omnibus Public Land Act in March 2009, the BLM now manages eight Wilderness Areas across nearly 247,000 acres in Oregon. The BLM also manages one Wilderness Area in Washington covering 7,142 acres. In addition, the BLM currently protects wilderness values on 82 Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) and five Instant Study Areas in Oregon totaling more than 2.6 million acres and one WSA in Washington totaling 5,557 acres.

    Wilderness is Congressionally-designated piece land that is managed in accordance with the Wilderness Act of 1964 to "...secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness." Wilderness areas are places where natural processes take precedent; areas managed so that nature remains substantially unchanged by human use. Rugged trails provide the only access into wilderness, and travel is restricted to foot or horseback. To learn more abot the spectacular wilderness areas in Oregon and Washington that await you, just head on over to:


    The Oregon/Washington Bureau of Land Management Public Room has available for sale a wide range of publications, maps, and recreation guides - both online and in person. Pick out the kind of map you want and follow the "Purchase Online" link to buy your map! www.blm.gov/or/onlineservices/maps/
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