Stories in Nevada

Protecting Sagebrush Ecosystems

Working with Newmont Mining Corporation to protect rangelands

Sagebrush in Eastern Nevada
Rangelands Sagebrush sea in Eastern Nevada © Chip Carroon

The Commitment

The Nature Conservancy and Newmont Mining Corporation have entered into an agreement by which TNC will – over the next 3 years – assist in the preparation of a conservation plan for 1.2 million acres of land managed by or utilized by Newmont in Nevada.

This land is in the heart of Nevada’s core Greater sage-grouse territory and includes some of the best sage-grouse habitat in Nevada, which is also important for other key species such as mule deer and pygmy rabbit.  However, as is the case throughout north central Nevada, the lands in the planning area, including wet meadows and vast areas of sagebrush on which sage-grouse depend, present opportunities for enhancement. Maintenance and improvement of rangeland health will benefit wildlife, livestock, and people. Wildfire and invasive species impacts can be addressed.

Solutions in Action

The primary objective of the agreement is to use TNC’s proven Landscape Conservation Forecasting™ science-based planning process to design cost-effective conservation and rehabilitation/restoration treatments for Newmont’s IL TS, and Horseshoe Ranches (both private land and public grazing allotments) that will:

  • Improve greater sage-grouse habitat which should result in an increase in the number of birds.
  • Improve mule deer and pygmy rabbit habitat.
  • Build support among federal and state agencies and other interested parties for the methods, metrics, processes, recommendations, and products developed by TNC and others partners for the IL, TS, and Horseshoe Ranches.
  • Design conservation and restoration/rehabilitation actions that will be compatible with and support commercial livestock operations.
  • Facilitate the use of the plan and its methodologies as a demonstration of best practices for setting habitat and population viability metrics and standards for use within the federal regulatory context.
  • Serve the ecological and economic interests of Nevada.

The work will be conducted over roughly three years and will entail:

  • Collection and interpretation of satellite imagery and field data.
  • Evaluation of current conditions of 1.2 million acres of Newmont managed lands (both fee owned and federal grazing allotments).
  • An expert process, including federal and state agency personnel, for creating and simulating management alternatives.
  • The use of computer models to evaluate management alternatives.
  • An open, close and collaborative working relationship among TNC, Newmont Mining Corporation, and other partners in the undertaking. 

A Sustainable Future

TNC and Newmont Mining Corporation will be working on this plan for the next 3 years. It is our intent that the final product will offer significant habitat management options for Newmont to consider implementing on the lands that were evaluated, and that this plan may provide a blueprint for how additional lands in Nevada that are important for Greater sage-grouse may be managed in the future.

Learn about another project to protect sagebrush ecosystems in Northern Nevada >