The Cooperative Sagebrush Initiative (CSI) operated from 2006 through 2013. It is, to this day, the only range-wide attempt to unite a broad coalition of western land users to conserve and restore the sagebrush ecosystem across portions of 11 western states. The group galvanized around proactive alternatives to extreme environmental groups that were petitioning to list species like the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). CSI developed an innovative agenda for implementing cooperative conservation through partnerships, good science, and incentives. Building from the credibility of its membership, linked to expertise in land management, industrial development, and policy, CSI helped to advance a better way of doing business in the sagebrush biome. While CSI formally disbanded in late 2013, today nearly all of the ideas advanced by CSI are being adopted in one form or another.
February 2011 Interim Report – By Jon Haufler and Tom Esgate
CSI initiated this project in order to develop and evaluate a metric system for mitigation in sagebrush ecosystems and to further evaluate the potential for development of a mitigation credit trading system based on the metrics. The proposed metric system relied on the use of ecological sites as classified and described by the Natural Resource Conservation Service as a basis for assuring equivalency of sagebrush ecosystems and ecosystem services. The system also used an evaluation of wildlife habitats to evaluate equivalency of benefits and impacts at landscape scales.
The project is partially funded by a 2008 NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) and pilot tested as seven sites across the sagebrush biome.