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Trump case expected to head to the jury today; IN food banks concerned about draft Farm Bill; NH parents, educators urge veto of anti-LGBTQ+ bills; Study shows a precipitous drop in migratory fish populations, in US and worldwide.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest against Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial as both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic Party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Western Ranchers Compare Successes in Saving Sagebrush

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015   

ADEL, Ore. - Ranchers from across the West met this week to talk about what they're doing to preserve sagebrush country on public and private land - not only for the threatened sage-grouse but for the overall health of the range and other animals and plants that call it home.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service arranged the Partners for Conservation gathering in Montana, in part to celebrate improvements on more than 4 million acres in the first five years of its "Sage Grouse Initiative."

Cattleman John O'Keefe of Adel, who was at the meeting, said convincing his fellow southern Oregon ranchers to give conservation measures a try hasn't been a hard sell.

"It doesn't happen overnight," he said, "but they see what happens, you know - if they look over the fence and see these junipers going away and seeing this rangeland opened up - and the benefits you get from doing these things, and it kind of sells itself."

In all, according to the NRCS, 1,100 private landowners and more than 100 organizations and agencies are part of the Sage Grouse Initiative in 11 Western states. O'Keefe credited some of Oregon's success to the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Burns, which he said is developing state-of-the-art range-management plans.

NRCS chief Jason Weller pointed to success with juniper eradication and taking the Oregon chub off the endangered species list earlier this year as examples of how rural Oregon conservation efforts are working.

"What we've learned time and again," he said, "is that the best solutions, and the most enduring ones, start at the local level - start with the private landowners, start with the local community being engaged - identifying the needs and then bringing the results and the solutions."

Weller said the agency has committed to another four years of the Sage Grouse Initiative, with a goal of expanding sustainable ranching practices to 8 million acres.

NRCS also released a report this week that features about two dozen individual landowners in the program. The report is online at nrcs.usda.gov.



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