Shrub-steppe Initiative

Identifying and protecting Washington's shrub-steppe ecosystem

Photo: Dave Showalter

The sagebrush steppe is an iconic habitat of the western United States, a seemingly vast and open landscape described by some as the “sagebrush sea.” Here in Washington State, approximately 10.5 million acres of the Columbia Plateau ecoregion were once covered by sagebrush and native grasses. Today, these arid lands have largely been converted to agricultural fields and fragmented by residential and urban development, resulting in over 50% loss of our historic sagebrush habitat.

The remaining sagebrush areas are under threat from climate change, development pressure, increased fire frequency, incompatible grazing practices, and invasive species.

Through community science and advocacy, landowner outreach, collaborative partnerships and policy initiatives, Audubon Washington and our local chapters are building on our record of conservation action to support local economies and secure the future for sagebrush bird species and the habitat they rely on.

In the arid lands of the Columbia Plateau we work with our chapter network and partners in the the Arid Lands Initiative to identify, connect, and protect the best remaining bird habitat. We manage local, hands-on efforts to:
  • Protect remaining critical sagebrush habitat
  • Close information gaps in our knowledge of focal bird species’ distribution and habitat needs
  • Build public-private partnerships in support of habitat connectivity and rangeland fire 
  • Influence land management in priority sagebrush lands 
  • Advance multi-benefit renewable energy siting​
 
Sagebrush Songbird Conservation
Working Lands

Sagebrush Songbird Conservation

Building off of our landmark Sagebrush Songbird Survey to protect birds in Washington's Sagebrush Steppe

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Fire in the Shrub-steppe
Working Lands

Fire in the Shrub-steppe

Towards fire resilience and landscape rehabilitation in Washington’s shrub-steppe

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Solar Energy: Siting it Right in the Columbia Basin
Conservation

Solar Energy: Siting it Right in the Columbia Basin

A balanced approach to 100% clean electricity

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Priority Birds of Eastern Washington

Sagebrush Steppe News Feed

A Legislative Agenda for the Birds
Press Center

A Legislative Agenda for the Birds

Join an Audubon advocacy group to meet with your state legislator on December 7.  Audubon will schedule your group’s meeting and provide training to ensure you’re prepared to speak for the birds!

A ‘Win-Win’ for Washington Agriculture and Wildlife
AuduBlog

A ‘Win-Win’ for Washington Agriculture and Wildlife

Farmers increasingly opt in to voluntary conservation programs in Washington

Growing Climate Solutions in Washington
AuduBlog

Growing Climate Solutions in Washington

Some of the country’s most important bird habitat areas – including coastal wetlands, grasslands, forests and urban green spaces – are also major carbon sinks

Fire Restoration on Saddle Mountain
AuduBlog

Fire Restoration on Saddle Mountain

Audubon shows its strength by bringing to bear original science and a cohesive network to quickly restore vital shrub-steppe habitat

Major Victories for Conservation and Climate
AuduBlog

Major Victories for Conservation and Climate

2021 Legislative session wrap-up

Restoration and Recovery in the Columbia Plateau
AuduBlog

Restoration and Recovery in the Columbia Plateau

Legislature passes two key budget provisos to protect shrub-steppe

2021 Sagebrush Steppe Initiative
AuduBlog

2021 Sagebrush Steppe Initiative

Identifying and protecting Washington's sagebrush lands

Value of the Shrub-Steppe
AuduBlog

Value of the Shrub-Steppe

Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Kim Thorburn reflects on the intrinsic value of Washington's sagelands

Grouse: A Podcast About the Bird That's Dividing the West
AuduBlog

Grouse: A Podcast About the Bird That's Dividing the West

BirdNote's new podcast uses Sage-Grouse to tell a story about hope, compromise, and life in rural America.

How you can help, right now