Nevada mines protecting wildlife

Nevada mines protecting wildlife

Nevada mines protecting wildlife

Without healthy sagebrush habitat, there would be no greater sage-grouse. Nevada’s mining industry has worked for decades to address threats to the bird: sourced primarily to habitat destruction at the hands of fire, invasive species, and even roads. Mines do not threaten sage-grouse or their habitat, though as one of rural Nevada’s few industrial operators, we are often targeted with solutions. And while the Department of the Interior has backed off on its plan to withdraw millions of Nevada acres from mining activity to protect the bird, we know as an industry that this conversation is far from over. So regardless of what government agencies may or may not do, Nevada miners will continue to lead the way in protecting wildlife.

The entire industry has stepped up to address this important task. Kinross has applied for more than 10,000 acres of conservation credits, the first company to do so. Barrick partnered with the Nature Conservancy, along with State and Federal agencies improve habitat on its privately owned land. And as an industry, our own representatives have been working with Governor Sandoval’s Sagebrush Ecosystem Council to coordinate long-term industry and policy solutions.

Newmont’s program is particularly interesting, and that company is uniquely positioned to take on this challenge. It owns four major ranches across the heart of sage-grouse habitat. The Conservation Framework Agreement (CFA) of Newmont’s Sagebrush Ecosystem Conservation Program (SECP) is the first of its kind in the U.S. for its scope and scale. collaboration included the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Newmont is creating and implementing conservation plans on its ranches to protect the ecosystem and ultimately achieve a net gain for sagebrush species like the sage-grouse. Some projects include developing water resources, prescribed livestock grazing to improve sagebrush health, rangeland seeding, and strategic fuels management. These changes will be set a new standard for land stewards, conserving biological diversity, offsetting mineral exploration and mine-related impacts, and generating state conservation credits.

Even as we work to enhance sage-grouse habitats, Newmont is partnering U.S. Geological Survey, NDOW, and the BLM to conduct research projects on the ecosystem to further agency and industry understanding. Researchers are examining biological control of cheatgrass, reintroduction of the Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse, and prescribed grazing to reduce cheatgrass dominance.

The conservation programs implemented in Nevada’s sagebrush ecosystem are working. The Bailey Creek greater sage-grouse mating area, or lek, is among the largest in Nevada. Because of the work done through this public-private partnership, the Bailey Creek lek supported 173 birds in 2015, 194 in 2016, and 175 birds in 2017.

Nevada mines will always work to produce the minerals that power the twenty-first century. Even in doing so, environmental stewardship is a core industry value. Managing and improving the sagebrush ecosystem through conservation planning will help ensure the greater sage-grouse remains a vital part of the Nevada’s landscape for years to come.