Inmates Planting Sagebrush for Sage Grouse Habitat


by Tanya Bañuelos, The Argus Observer

Ontario, Oregon— An Ontario prison program that aims to improve sage grouse habitat has more than doubled in its second year.  Once again, inmates at Snake River Correctional Institution have partnered with the nonprofit Institute for Applied Ecology and Bureau of Land Management in Washington, D.C., and Vale in efforts to improve habitat conditions for species on the decline by sowing and planting seeds.

Last year about 20,000 Wyoming big sagebrush seeds were sowed and planted by SRCI inmates in a pilot program to help restore greater sage grouse habitat. This year, due to the pilot’s success, the correctional facility’s sowing production has doubled to 40,000 plants, and now four other prisons have joined the cause to sow 143,000 plants in total.

Sometime this fall, the seeds will be planted to allow ample time for the roots to establish and grow.
In the meantime, the crew that works on the project seven days a week continues to watch over the plants and even help maintain a vegetable garden at the Ontario prison.

Across the board, the inmates involved said they take joy in their work in the ongoing push to aid the environment and wildlife.  “It’s nice to actually do something that positively impacts the natural resources and aids to the sustainability of the region,” said Jesse Foreman, a garden worker and inmate on the project. “There is so much harm that we do to the environment, that it’s good to take actions that actually make it better.”

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Source:  The Argus Observer



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