Inmates and grad students restore habitat for endangered Greater Sage Grouse

The sagebrush ecosystem is in trouble — thanks to invasive species and wildfires, which have damaged much of the land in the West.

Now, to help restore some recently burned areas, inmates from central Washington are planting sagebrush that has been grown in prisons.

The vast steppe-like landscape near Ephrata, Washington, stretches almost as far as you can see. Most of the sagebrush is pretty healthy, if not too dense.

But this 240-acre patch of public land was burned last year.

The burned area has been reseeded with bunch grasses. If you look closely, you can see burned sagebrush stumps sticking up from the ground.

Here’s another sagebrush body,Gretchen Graber says. She’s a graduate student at Washington State University-Tri Cities.

Over the last few months, she’s taught inmates at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center how to grow sagebrush.

The project a first of its kind: a sagebrush restoration program being conducted in a Washington State prison.

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