Oregon Adults in Custody Restore Sagebrush Habitat


The Sagebrush in Prisons Project is a unique collaboration among the Oregon Department of Corrections, Bureau of Land Management, and Institute for Applied Ecology. The goal of the project is to engage incarcerated men and women in habitat restoration and ecological science.

Since 2014, AICs at Snake River Correctional Institution (SRCI) have grown over 400,000 sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings for habitat improvement projects on public lands. This year they have carefully tended over 70,000 plants, all of which are destined to rehabilitate burned or degraded sagebrush habitat in eastern Oregon and Idaho. Their efforts benefit the imperiled greater sage-grouse and other species that depend on sagebrush habitat, including pronghorn, elk, mule deer, and sage thrashers.

This year, more than 37 men at SRCI have participated in the sagebrush program, growing native plants, and attending educational workshops about careers in horticulture and the wildlife and ecology of the sagebrush-steppe. Just a couple weeks ago, they were busy boxing up their seedlings for agency partners including BLM Districts in Idaho and Oregon.

“This project allows inmates to learn new skills and help the environment while serving their time,” says Nancy DeWitt, IAE contractor. “By planting sagebrush they have cared for all summer they get to bring their efforts full circle and directly see how their work benefits our public lands.”

On November 9, 2022, Institute for Applied Ecology’s (IAE) Sagebrush in Prisons Project (SPP) regional coordinator, Alyson Singer, held an end of season party and awarded participating AICs with certificates, recognizing their new skills and knowledge in horticulture, teamwork, problem solving, and science education.

For more information on this program, please visit: https://appliedeco.org/education/sagebrush-in-prisons-project/

About Author

Bryanna is a Public Records Manager for the Oregon Department of Administrative Services.

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