For the last several years, the sage grouse has been at the center of a historic conservation effort that recently culminated in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife's controversial decision not to afford the grouse protection under the Endangered Species Act. The bird's habitat, the great sagebrush sea stretching from Washington to New Mexico, has been disrupted by mining, natural gas drilling, cattle grazing, invasive cheatgrass, and wildfires, causing the species to decline by as much as 90 percent. Oregon alone has lost an estimated 50 percent of its sage grouse population in the last 20 years.
Following this momentous decision, the High Desert Museum is hosting an exhibit, "Sage Grouse: Icon of the Sagebrush Sea," which explores the natural history, cultural significance, and conservation efforts to protect the sage grouse and its habitat. Noted wildlife photographer, Noppadol Paothong, will showcase his award winning book, Save the Last Dance – A Story of North American Grassland Grouse. The book is the culmination of more than a decade of work on seven threatened North American grouse species and one species that has already become extinct. The book features captivating images of the birds' mating rituals, habits, and behaviors. In addition, Noppadol's latest project, a three-year photography effort around the grouse that he has been working on since his book was released, will be revealed at the exhibit.
Looking to the future, the exhibit also examines the unprecedented efforts of ranchers, conservationists, state and federal agencies, and industry groups to work together to implement a plan for the protection of the birds' breeding grounds and to stop or reverse the species' decline. The public will have an opportunity to learn about the history of the bird as well as how to get involved and directly support the protection of the sage grouse and its habitat.
Sage Grouse: Icon of the Sagebrush Sea
Exhibit runs from now till April 24
Hours 9 am - 5 pm
Admission: $15 adults, $12 seniors, $9 children