Sage Spirit Conservation Project

Click the button below to donate to Sage Spirit through the Laramie Audubon Society. * Please be sure to select “Other” under the Program section, and write in “Sage Spirit Conservation Project”.

I’ve been working on my “Sage Spirit” conservation project in the American West for over four years now, with plans for a book, multimedia presentations,traveling photo exhibit, lecture series and social media. Marla and I have traveled the West for a few decades and I’m still stunned by the remarkable beauty and challenges we face every time I venture into the field. My project geography is well-established as I focus on the eastern side of the Rockies from Greater Yellowstone to Telluride, Colorado. I photograph in largely unknown places that are every bit as important and beautiful as national parks – the Upper Green River Basin, Red Desert, Vermillion Basin, Absaroka-Beartooth Front, Gunnison Basin… wherever the project leads me. Every one of these critical habitats in this complicated sagebrush ecosystem is threatened. The Greater Sage-grouse is in the news a lot; a chicken-sized bird that spends its whole life in sage. Grouse are an “umbrella species”, meaning that protecting habitat for grouse allows other species that depend upon healthy sage to thrive. Nearly every animal in the West spends part of its life in sagebrush, and many creatures are in steep decline. My job, as I see it, is to work with conservation leaders in the West, and use my images and my voice to protect core and connected habitat, important places, migrations, endemic species, and our Western heritage. Audubon is my top partner on this project. I’m also working with Greater Yellowstone Coalition, The Wilderness Society, Wyoming Outdoor Council, Colorado Environmental Coalition, Rocky Mountain Wild, Western State College, government agencies and others. Sage Spirit values working landscapes and private landowners are as important to this story as they are to the future of the American West.

If you read this blog, you know that we’ve had some success protecting Vermillion Basin and stopping the plan to drill in the Upper Hoback of the Wyoming Range. There’s also a good chance that we’ll steer oil and gas development to brown fields on the Absaroka Front, protecting Yellowstone’s “wild side”. It’s important for me to advocate now for places that face urgent threats and I’ll continue in this advocacy role. So why are these places and others imminently threatened? The West is under enormous pressure to provide energy for the nation and vast reserves of fossil fuels, mostly natural gas are extracted using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” techniques. The industry is largely unregulated and land managers are leasing our public lands at an alarming rate. Massive mega-gas fields have created industrial zones on a landscape scale; threatening our air, water, wildlife, recreation – our Western and natural heritage. Other forms of development further fragment the land, but energy production leads the rapid industrialization.

There’s still some time to preserve wild places and the wild character of the West. My vision is to continue support for Audubon’s core habitat strategy, link core and other important habitats, preserving functioning landscapes – places where native wildlife and flora are thriving and where people can recreate – for all time.

The field work is expensive. Sage Spirit’s progress and success depends on having the financial resources to travel, make images, and bring the story to stakeholders across the U.S. To date, private funding and LightHawk’s gracious donation of flights for aerial work have funded the project. You can help by making a tax deductible donation today. I’ll make sure that you get a receipt.

Thank you!

Click the button below to donate to Sage Spirit through the Laramie Audubon Society. * Please be sure to select “Other” under the Program section, and write in “Sage Spirit Conservation Project”.

* I will make a signed, custom plaque-mounted 20″x30″ print for $1000 donors.

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