Sagebrush in Prisons Project


IAE coordinates the Sagebrush in Prisons Project, an environmental partnership between the Institute for Applied Ecology, Department of Corrections, and the Bureau of Land Management. The Sagebrush in Prisons Project, as part of the Sustainability in Prisons Project, provides unique and meaningful ecological activities and horticultural training to incarcerated men and women with the goal of restoring native habitat for the greater sage-grouse in the great basin region. The project currently is active in nine prisons in five different states. Crew members in the prisons grow sagebrush from seed, and water, weed, thin, and fertilize the seedlings throughout the spring and summer. In the fall all of the sagebrush seedlings are boxed up and sent to BLM restoration sites to be planted. Many of these sites previously burned in wildfires which quickly are taken over by invasive weeds like cheatgrass. By planting sagebrush seedlings the areas are able to recover more quickly to providing habitat for sage-grouse once again.

For her tireless work for the Sagebrush in Prisons project, Stacy Moore, Ecological Education Program Director (retired), was named a 2018 Difference Maker 100 by TIAA, a leading provider of financial services nationwide. This inspiring project provides both habitat and hope for inmates involved. Moore was selected from among more than 4,000 entries. Read More

Additional Project Information

Project Newsletters

Read the Sagebrush in Prisons Newsletter that is distributed to the sagebrush crews in each of the prisons:

Project Protocols and Outline

Read our Sagebrush Project protocols and project outline: “Working With Correctional Facilities to Produce Sagebrush for Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation”

Watch a webinar about the SPP on YouTube: Unlocking Boundaries: Propagating Native Plants with Incarcerated Populations

News Coverage

Click here to view news coverage of the Sagebrush in Prisons Project.

Project History

For 2016: We coordinated with seven states in the great basin region to grow over 390,000 sagebrush and other sage steppe plants important to the region.

For 2017: We coordinated with eight western states to grow over 390,000 sagebrush and other sage steppe plants important to the region.

For 2018: The project planted its one-millionth sagebrush seedling in Idaho. Also, for her tireless work for the Sagebrush in Prisons project, Ecological Education Program Director Stacy Moore was named a 2018 Difference Maker 100 by TIAA, a leading provider of financial services nationwide. Moore was selected from among more than 4,000 entries. Read More

For 2019: The project was active in nine prisons in five states, and grew a total of 441,926 sagebrush and 8,200 bitterbursh.

  • Warner Creek C.F. in Lakeview, Oregon grew 30,000 sagebrush, and 3,000 bitterbrush plants.
  • Snake River C. F. in Ontario, Oregon grew 57,562 sagebrush and 198 milkweed plants.
  • South Boise Women’s C.C. in Kuna, Idaho grew 26,796 sagebrush and 1,000 bitterbrush plants.
  • Idaho State C.C. in Kuna, Idaho grew 50,568 sagebrush and 4,200 bitterbrush plants.
  • Nevada & California: Four prisons grew a total of ~252,000 sagebrush to deliver to four local BLM offices for outplanting. Here is the breakdown by prison: Lovelock C.C. ~43,000 Warm Springs C.C.~76,000 Northern Nevada C.C. Unit 5 ~55,000, Unit 3 ~33,000, FCI Herlong ~45,000
  • Honor Farm in Riverton, Wyoming began growing sagebrush for the first time this year after building a new greenhouse. They grew 25,000 sagebrush including Wyoming Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and Silver Sage (Artemisia cana). 3,500 will be planted by volunteers in the Red Desert on National Public Lands Day, 5,000 will be planted near Cody in early October. About 12,000 seedlings will be planted by inmates on abandoned mine lands. The remaining plants will be distributed among other Wyoming BLM offices.

For 2020: The project was initiated at California City Correctional Facility, growing a suite of native plants for restoring habitat for the Mojave Desert tortoise. Read more.

  • Most prisons continue despite the pandemic with dedicated IAE staff, IAE contractors, and DOC personnel ensuring the education programs continue to grow native plants for Bureau of Land Management (BLM) habitat restoration efforts. Read more.
  • Sustainability in Prisons Project at Evergreen State College published a new “Foundations In Gardening – Seeds to Supper” curriculum for use in prisons.  Ecological Education Coordinator Dionné Mejía contributed to this work. To review or download, click here.

Oregon Sustainability in Prisons Projects

IAE is a leading partner of the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP), working to bring science and nature education opportunities into prisons.  We work closely with Department of Corrections, Bureau of Land Management, and other partners to provide unique and meaningful activities to incarcerated men and women with the goal of helping our natural environment.

CCCF: Coffee Creek Correctional Facility

  • Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF) is a multi-custody prison accommodating all the State of Oregon female inmates. It is located in Wilsonville, Oregon.
  • The Viola crew in the CCCF minimum security facility grow viola adunca as part of a project to help the threatened silverspot butterfly. In addition to growing the viola plants, crew members harvest the viola leaves, which are sent to the Oregon Zoo to feed silverspot buterfly caterpillars being raised there.
  • The Plantago crew in the CCCF medium security facility grow English plantain (plantago lanceolata). The plantago leaves are harvested by the crew and taken to the onsite butterfly lab. The butterfly lab is run by the Butterfly crew, who give the plantago leaves to endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, which then lay eggs on the leaves. After the caterpillars are born they are continually fed fresh plantago leaves until they pupate. The pupa are released in prairies throughout the Willamette valley to boost the population of this endangered native butterfly.
  • Partners in the project include Oregon Department of Corrections, Institute for applied Ecology, Oregon Zoo, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • This project also includes weekly horticulture and ecology classes for the Plantago crew, and monthly ecology lectures that are open to all eligible inmates.
Fig. 1 (below)- Current distribution of Greater Sage-Grouse with locations of state and federal correctional facilities. Greater Sage-Grouse distribution data from USGS.