February 2016

Saving the sage-grouse

Conservation efforts by Tata Chemicals North America and others have helped bring the sage-grouse back from the brink of extinction in the US

The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a large upland game bird native to Wyoming and the western United States. Sage-grouse is one of the few species in the North American high desert ecosystem that depends almost entirely on sagebrush, as it provides year-round food and shelter for the bird.

Sage-grouse is a large upland game bird native to Wyoming

Sage-grouse are a 'landscape species' which utilize widespread sagebrush habitats throughout the western United States and southern Canada. The sage-grouse range in the western United States covers nearly 173-million acres. Over the last half-century, sage-grouse populations and the bird's breeding habitat have declined across the American West and Wyoming, leading to concerns regarding the birds' future.

In 2015, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service determined that protection of the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act was no longer warranted. This decision was reached after an unprecedented conservation effort was taken by both state governments and private industry in the western United States.

Tata has been an integral part of this conservation effort in southwest Wyoming through habitat conservation agreements with the Bureau of Land Management and United States Fish and Wildlife Service. These conservation agreements establish Tata's commitment to go above and beyond to serve society through science and conserve critical sage-grouse habitat over the next 30 years. Tata is one of the founding members of the Wyoming Mining Natural Resource Foundation, a public benefit corporation organized to support an economically viable and sustainable Wyoming mining industry through creation, management, and administration of voluntary natural stewardship strategies, initiatives, and agreements. It also supports scientific research, educational outreach, and development of cooperative, practical and innovative solutions to mining-related issues that affect Wyoming's communities and natural resources.

Tata's engineering team used cutting edge ventilation fans and mining technology to reduce impacts to the local habitat in Green River, Wyoming

Tata's employees understand the importance of preserving sage-grouse and other wildlife habitat in Wyoming. Wildlife conservation has been a way of life since the conception of the 'Forever West State' and Wyomingites know that in order to keep this way of life, habitat to support healthy populations of sage-grouse and other wildlife is critical.

Tata Chemicals North America's Green River, Wyoming, processing facility is located inside and adjacent to critical core habitat for sage-grouse, and the newest ventilation shaft (shaft 7) for the underground mining operation is located only 2 miles from the nearest lekking grounds. Building a new ventilation shaft in core habitat without effecting sage-grouse is a big challenge. Tata's engineering team used cutting edge ventilation fan and mining technology to reduce impacts to the local habitat. In fact, the engineering team was able to design and install ventilation fans and sweeps that reduced noise levels to 90 decibels, a 15-decibel decrease over conventional ventilation fans used at the facility.