Conservation Management Planning


The Idaho National Laboratory and the Sagebrush Steppe Ecosystem

Sagebrush-steppe is a type of dry habitat characterized by sagebrush and other shrubs and grasses. The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site lies in the largest sagebrush-steppe in North America. The name "sagebrush-steppe" comes from sagebrush, which is the most abundant plant species that grows in this ecosystem and "steppe," which is a word describing a large, dry, level grassland having few or no trees.

The sagebrush-steppe is an ecosystem in decline due to a number of threats.

  • Human Disturbance

  • Livestock

  • Wildland Fire

  • Invasive Species

  • Sagebrush Control

  • Energy Development

  • Infrastructure Development


Habitats on most of the INL Site have been safeguarded from many disturbances for over 50 years, making it the largest remnant of high quality sagebrush steppe ecosystem in the United States.  The INL Site consists of diverse plant community types and habitats which are home to a diversity of wildlife, including sensitive and sagebrush-obligate species.  These characteristics make the INL Site an ecologically important habitat to study the sagebrush steppe in an intact and relatively undisturbed ecosystem.


Conservation Management Planning

Two main objectives of Conservation Management Planning are to:

  • Maintain data on abundance and distribution of sensitive species to support National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) compliance.

  • Put into place a proactive plan for land management to support DOE’s INL mission, to provide DOE with mechanisms for ensuring compliance, to provide a structure for ensuring appropriate management goals, objectives, and/or strategies are developed to facilitate DOE’s stewardship of INL’s cultural and natural resources, and to implement an ecosystem management approach for ecological resources on the INL Site.




Conservation Management Planning Approach


Conservation management planning includes conducting vegetation mapping, biodiversity inventories, and sensitive species inventories. 

Vegetation Mapping

Biodiversity Inventory

Special Species Inventory