Sage Grouse

Odds are high that the “Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program” strikes a familiar chord with anyone who has resided for more than a week in Montana. Amidst the Executive Orders, public commentary, and permitting maze is a topic worthy of a second look.  Herein lies an integral symbiotic relationship between a brave avian species, characteristic big sky rangelands, and valuable energy resources that stimulate the heart of Montana’s economy.

Ultimately, the arid climatic and sedimentary-based geological environments that host some of Montana’s valuable energy deposits also retain key soil chemistry and structural components that promote healthy growth of Sagebrush.  This unique species of evergreen offers foliage containing a high percentage of crude protein, as well as abundant thermal and visual protection, providing the ideal nourishment and nesting environment for the Greater Sage-Grouse.  Addressing the concerns of one interest group while protecting the livelihood of another has become somewhat of a balancing act for the Montana State Legislature.

Significant Sage-Grouse population decline has raised concerns and triggered careful examination. The result has been nearly two decades of ongoing debate whether or not to add a Greater Sage-Grouse listing to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The recently implemented Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program is mutually beneficial to Montana’s Wildlife, Environment, and Industry

“The quiet beauty of our state, the grandeur of our mountains, and the vastness of our rolling plains” is simply an excerpt of the preamble to the Montana Constitution, yet eloquently embodies a state deeply valued by its residents.

Not surprisingly, Montana’s residents take pride and ownership in all that our state has to offer, which fuels a driving force behind the desire to prevent a Sage Grouse listing on the Endangered Species Act.  Although ESA provides safeguards for threatened species, it also contains a number of implications that would prove detrimental to the state of Montana overall. As the vast majority of Sage Grouse habitats are under private land ownership, should the Sage Grouse become listed, the hard-and-fast stipulations of ESA Section 7 (No-jeopardy consultation requirement) and ESA Section 9 (Take prohibition) would likely impede growth with respect to energy resource development. By effectively managing the problem at a state level, an ESA listing could be prevented, thus preserving the interests of all parties.

In 2015, the Legislature passed the Greater Sage Grouse Stewardship Act, and Governor Bullock signed Executive Orders 12-2015 and 21-2015, creating the Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program, and involving federal, state, and private entities in a concerted effort for Montana to retain state authority over land management while ensuring that a Sage Grouse listing will not be necessary.

~ Proactive management today safeguards growth potential for both wildlife and industry tomorrow. ~

The Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program is a carefully engineered habitat management plan that protects wildlife without precluding development.

Specific details on the Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program can be found at:

How can I contribute to the success of the management plan?

Understand the Management Plan Basics for guiding development in designated Sage Grouse Habitats

  • Avoid impacts if possible
  • Minimize impacts if they cannot be avoided
  • Restore impacted areas

Know your project area – Is it within designated Sage Grouse Habitat?

  • Core area (Leks, nesting areas, prime habitat areas)
  • General habitat (important habitat areas)
  • Connectivity area (areas that link Montana populations to habitats in other states and Canada)

Designated Sage Grouse Habitats and Requests for Project Review can be found at:

Contact WET’s permitting team to ensure that projects undergo proper evaluation early in the permitting process, in order to keep your development on schedule.

In 2014, WET created an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) and became an employee-owned company.  The reason for this move was obvious: we have great people at WET who have dedicated their professional lives to our company and our clients, and we wanted them to share in the benefits of ownership.  It was also a smart business decision: studies have shown that companies with ESOP’s grow at a faster rate than those without.  A 2000 Rutgers study found that ESOP companies grow 2.3% to 2.4% faster after setting up their ESOP than would have been expected without it. Companies that combine employee ownership with employee workplace participation programs show even more substantial gains in performance. A 1986 NCEO study found that employee ownership firms that practice participative management grow 8% to 11% per year faster with their ownership plans than they would have without them.


Since our ESOP was formed, WET has grown from 28 to 44 employees, so needless to say we are believers in the benefits of employee-ownership.  With employee growth has also come the ability to provide additional services to our clients.   We have significantly expanded our engineering geoscience, and Civil 3D capacity, we have a licensed surveyor on staff, and we now provide UAV surveying.  Exciting stuff!


Along with our ESOP we created a Communications Committee consisting of nine employees that meet regularly and keep employees educated on ESOP issues.  We want all of our employees to wear their “owners hat” and bring new ideas to the table on how we can do things better.  We proudly wear our “Employee Owner” stickers on our hard hats, and take our commitment seriously.


Overall, our firm has become a more tight-knit group that is working together to become more efficient, improve performance, and grow our business, which translates directly into increased value for our clients. We’ve also increased our commitment to serving the communities we live and work in by donating our time and money to charities and causes around Butte, Anaconda, and Great Falls.  It’s a WIN-WIN for everyone!


Water & Environmental Technologies – Client and Community Dedicated, Employee Owned.


It’s getting to be that time of year!  The Fall professional conference season is almost upon us.  Here is a list of the conferences you can expect to see WET staff attending in the coming months, either as exhibitors, attendees, or both:

Montana Association of Counties Annual Conference – September 18-22nd at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center

We will have a booth set up at this conference.  Please stop by to learn more about our services, including UAV surveying, engineering, permitting, and hear about the interesting projects we do for several counties around the State of Montana.


Montana League of Cities and Town – October 5-7th at the Missoula Hilton Garden Inn

We will have a booth set up at this conference as well.  Come see us and ask about our services, especially storm water and sanitary sewer engineering, surveying, and permitting.


Montana AWRA – October 13-14th at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

WET staff members will be in attendance at this conference, taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity to learn the latest in regards to Montana’s water resources.


We look forward to seeing many of our valued clients and colleagues this Fall at these various events.  It is a great time of year for our company as these conferences present our staff with the opportunity to take a break from their desks or get out of the field to network and learn with the very people that drive the industries we work in.