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Jr. of the US Fish and Wildlife Service sat down with me over coffee to create "The Cooperative Sagebrush Initiative” We beat the doors down at energy companies utilities mining companies state and federal agencies and environmental groups and succeeded to create the largest voluntary cooperative conservation program in history Companies like Encana USA and British Petroleum and the Bradley Fund for the Environment put up 2 million dollars as a match for the largest "Conservation Innovation Grant" with the Dept of Agriculture of that particular year Our initial work was so successful that the governor of Wyoming and the Bureau of Land Management took it over after initially working to suppress it We established new conservation tools Instead of lawsuits we developed the "Ecosystem Services Model" Suppose that ranchers are essentially grassland ecologists whose job is to grow grass Cattle eat the grass and landowners make money off the herd which they plow back into the health of the prairie Why not get paid to grow sagebrush instead of grass More sagebrush more Sage Grouse We had to convince businesspeople to make this investment So we flew them down to the Hill Country of central Texas to visit the successful Leon River Project This endeavor was located around Fort Hood where the military faced a serious environmental problem Live artillery shells were being shot into hillsides that were also the habitats of two endangered birds the Golden Cheeked Warbler and the Black Capped Vireo The alternatives were to ignore the Endangered Species Act shut down Fort Hood in the middle of a war or do something revolutionary Instead of running for cover the military joined together with environmental groups the US Fish and Wildlife Service Texas A&M biologists and private landowners who lived on degraded bird habitat They established a system of competitive sealed bids where ranchers offered to restore the prairie and improve the birds habitat by cutting down an invasive juniper replanting perennial grasses and developing proscribed burn districts to promote healthy fire ecology on the land The ranchers had to put up some of the money and a time period of stewardship The first bids were for ten percent of the proposed cash payment to be paid by the landowner with in-kind improvements over ten years Within just three years the landowner bids were averaging 20 per cent cash and in-kind with 20 years duration The US Fish and Wildlife biologists were allowed to go on the private lands as part of the agreement They started counting birds Within five years they discovered that there were no less than ten times as many nesting pairs of these endangered birds than their original surveys had estimated The crowning success came when we discovered that this recovery plan had an unintended positive consequence The invasive juniper (called red cedar) had prevented rainfall from re-entering the limestone aquifers The springs had dried up a hundred years ago Within five years the springs started flowing where the juniper had been removed and the prairie grasses were re-established The Sand County Foundation (of which I am a Director) established a program where the water district of Dallas-Ft Worth would pay ranchers to expand the removal of red cedar and the restoration of prairie More and cleaner water would flow into the Trinity River to the cities providing another unexpected ecosystem service payment to landowners We took this experience back north to Wyoming and other states and today private ranchers are working with the State Game and Fish Departments along with private organizations like the Sand County Foundation the Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund to support and steward greater Sage Grouse habitat So much conservation has been done on private land including isolated populations in northeastern California that Sage Grouse populations are rebounding All this has been accomplished without any restrictions imposed under the Endangered Species Act When the Secretary of Interior announced that the Greater Sage Grouse would never be listed due to the great work done on private lands in public-private partnerships the bird populations were well on the way to recovery Instead of buying more private land to protect wildlife habitat lets fund Ecosystem Services Payments As climate changes and ecology shifts from south to north we will have the tools to steward the land in a geographic and ecologic way Ecosystem services payments will cost less than land acquisition and be more flexible to boot In the southeast the Red Cockaded Woodpeckers of the southeast Loblolly pine forests are being given economic value; Payments to improve riparian areas along streams are giving the Greenback Cutthroat Trout of the Rockies another chance; and Black Tail Prairie Dogs of NE Wyoming are being protected by ranchers as are lesser Prairie Chickens and Mountain Plovers in SE Colorado – all recovered on private lands Across our nation people from diverse walks of life are coming together to save wildlife and their habitats by valuing them in a real economic way Dr Edward M Warner is the author of Running with Rhinos: Stories from a Radical Conservationist coming in March He is Honorary Professor at Colorado State University a Director of the Sand County Foundation and the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and a Trustee of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science Contact us at [email protected] IDEAS TIME Ideas hosts the world’s leading voices providing commentary on events in news society and culture We welcome outside contributions Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editorsA college student who was killed in Saudi Arabia on Friday after halting a suicide bomber who had attempted to enter a packed mosque is being remembered as a hero Abduljaleel Alarbash an undergraduate who was studying electrical engineering at Wichita State University and his cousin were working security at the mosque in the port city of Dammam roles for which they volunteered after a recent mosque attack The Wichita Eagle reports Alarbash became alarmed when someone dressed in all black attempted to go insidewomen had been told to remain at home due to safety The bomber was reported to have blown himself up in an attack claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) after Alarbash tried to turn him in "They saved a lot of lives" Yagoob "Jacob" Alsarouj a close friend of Alarbash and recent graduate of WSU said "What he did was a selfless act . Idaho and other states if the Greater Sage Grouse had been listed. It is the first major acknowledgement by the Mexican government that a powerful organized crime group has gone further than trading drugs. the former NSA said Pakistan has a central role in the emerging geo-economic order of South Asia, than Hillary alone. the Obama-Clinton foreign policy is a disaster, Must Nigeria be thrown into chaos just because Aso Rock wants to disenfranchise the whole North East via a pretentious emergency rule? Outside spending groups like super PACs are notoriously funded by, more cost-effective tactics. because we need more small.

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