The "Sagebrush Sea” is one of the most extensive natural landscapes in the United States and unique among the shrub steppes of the world. This land of wide-open spaces, solitude, and wildlife in staggering numbers and diversity, is largely unprotected and widely misunderstood. Today, energy development and fragmentation threaten the loss of one of America’s most iconic landscapes—the American west.
The gradual disappearance of sagebrush country in the west is having a profound effect on many wildlife species such as Brewer’s sparrow, sage sparrow, sage thrasher, pygmy rabbit, mule deer, pronghorn, and others. Among these species are the Greater and Gunnison’s Sage-grouse, unique and majestic birds especially sensitive to habitat loss. In 2010, the US Department of Fish and Wildlife declared that the sage grouse are a candidate for the endangered species list. Federal protection of sage-grouse would preserve the Sagebrush Sea for many species—and would preserve a way of life for many ranchers.
In Sage Spirit, photographer Dave Showalter examines the beauty, ecological diversity, and human use of this quintessential landscape of the American west.