Wyden, Merkley Announce Funds for Sagebrush Program

Washington, D.C. –Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced restored funding for a program that puts inmates to work producing sagebrush plants that help restore sage grouse habitat after wildfires.

The announcement by the Oregon senators of $600,000 in funding for the Sagebrush in Prisons Project follows their requests for the Interior Department to support the longstanding, successful program.

“This program consistently demonstrates multiple benefits — restoring fragile sagebrush habitat after wildfires and contributing mightily to the shared goal of avoiding a listing of the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act,” Wyden said. “I look forward to the highly effective Sagebrush in Prisons project continuing with these positive results for years to come.”

“This successful program is part of the broad collaboration in the region working to restore vulnerable sagebrush habitat,” Merkley said. “We fought to ensure this funding was delivered so that inmates could continue to have the opportunity to contribute to their community, and to help rebuild the sage grouse habitat.”

The resources will allow the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agreement with the Institute of Applied Ecology in Corvallis for the program to continue in Oregon and five other Western states. The sagebrush plants that are produced restore public lands after wildfire, while the inmates involved receive vocational training and an opportunity to give back to their communities.

“We are excited to get back to work restoring sagebrush to lands burned by catastrophic wildfires,” said Tom Kaye, Executive Director of the Institute for Applied Ecology.  “By planting sagebrush we’re repairing the food chain from the bottom up, so that wildlife can flourish.  And prison inmates have opportunities to participate in rural land conservation and job training.  It’s a win-win for our country.  We are grateful to Senators Wyden and Merkley for working with the Department of Interior to support this project.  This year we will plant our one millionth sagebrush on public land.”

A web version of this release is available here.