For a few days of the year, I work for Catherine Tarasoff, a professor from Michigan Tech University who’s conducting sagebrush research on the bentonite mine reclamation areas east of Greybull. That’s us in the photo below, exclaiming over a celebrity specimen named Charlie. (I’m on the left; Catherine’s on the right.)
To some, sagebrush is just a scruffy shrub that grows where trees won’t. But to those who value the near-threatened sage grouse, whose livelihood depends entirely upon the stability of sagebrush habitat, and to the mining companies who don’t get permits and bond releases until sagebrush is reestablished, and to those who work for mining companies or benefit from the minerals they provide, and to the children whose education is largely funded from mineral revenues—to all of those folks and to many species of animals, sagebrush is a precious resource.
Charlie and hundreds of other sagelings were hatched in a Michigan Tech greenhouse before being flown to Cody, driven to the foothills, planted the spring before last, then left to fend for themselves in a windy high-country desert about to go into drought. There have been many casualties, but the majority of the seedlings have not only survived but thrived, surprising even those who knew that sagebrush is very resilient.
I told Catherine and Dan, the geologist who oversees the reclamation for that area and the guy who snapped this photo, that if they really wanted a picture that proclaims successful sagebrush rehabilitation, they could import a sage grouse and tether him to Charlie!
“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 JOHN 1:2