Desert Survivors is an affiliation of desert lovers committed to experiencing, sharing and protecting desert wilderness wherever we find it. We recognize the places we love to explore will not remain wild unless we give others the opportunity to experience them as we do and unless we remain vigilant and active in our efforts to monitor and preserve them.
Photos by Lynne Buckner of the Massacre Rim - Dark Sky Sanctuary Car Camp
There are some terrific photographers in Desert Survivors, and one of the best is Lynne Buckner. Here are some of Lynne's best shots from the June 2023 Desert Survivors trip to the Massacre Rim - Dark Sky Sanctuary in Washoe County, Nevada. The excursion was led by David Oline. Spring flowers were at their peak, and the trip participants worked to document and post on iNaturalist what was growing in this severely under-botanized area of the map.
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The male bi-state sage-grouse is notable for a large inflatable air sack on its neck. In springtime the male will inflate the air sack creating a hugely exaggerated, puffed-up chest. At the same time he will commence to strut about, showing off tail feathers arrayed in an arcing fan and emitting a drumming sound from its body. This behavior serves to attract female partners for mating. The bi-state sage-grouse's range includes the majority of Mono County, the White Mountains in Inyo County, and portions of several counties in western Nevada. Researchers have charted the bird's decline, reporting that the current range of the population, along the California and Nevada border, comprises less than half of its historical range.
Desert Survivors And Other Conservation Groups Win Lawsuit Over Threatened Birds
SAN FRANCISCO― A federal court has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service illegally withdrew its proposal to list the bi-state sage grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley on May 16, 2022 vacated the agency’s 2020 withdrawal of the bird from the proposed listing, reinstated the 2013 proposal to list the birds as threatened and ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue a new final listing decision.
The bi-state sage grouse is a geographically isolated, genetically distinct population of greater sage grouse, which are famous for their showy plumage and mating dances, during which the males make popping sounds with large, inflated air sacs. They live only in an area along the California-Nevada border and face multiple threats. Population declines are particularly acute at the northern and southern ends of the birds’ range.
The court found that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2020 decision to withdraw the bird’s proposed listing failed to consider the small overall population of the bi-state sage grouse and the significance of the potential loss of subpopulations most at risk of being wiped out.
The birds were originally proposed for listing as threatened in 2013, but the Fish and Wildlife Service abandoned the proposal in 2015. In 2018 a federal court found the Service had wrongly denied Endangered Species Act protection to the bi-state sage grouse and required the agency to re-evaluate the bird’s situation. The bird was again proposed for protection, but in March 2020 the Trump administration withdrew the proposal.
Sage grouse populations in California and Nevada are isolated from other sage grouse by unsuitable habitats and former habitat that has been heavily developed. The bi-state sage grouse populations together are estimated to be no more than 3,305 birds, far below the 5,000-bird threshold that scientists consider the minimum viable population.
The conservation groups that successfully challenged the withdrawal include Desert Survivors, the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians. The groups are represented by attorneys from the Center and the Stanford Law Clinic
Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife