The polygon (vector) feature class represents locatable mineral resource assessment tracts (tracts of land) associated with the Department of the Interior (DOI) Sagebrush Focal Areas in Montana, Wyoming and Utah, central Idaho, and the Oregon-Nevada-Idaho border area. The mineral resources tracts are geographic areas that were assessed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and were determined to be geologically favorable for a deposit type of interest to a depth of 1 kilometer. Qualitative assessment methods outlined by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) were used to develop tract boundaries and to assign a level of mineral resource potential and certainty to each tract. The general process included: (1) identifying possible mineral deposit types for locatable commodities specified by BLM for each focal area, (2) outlining those areas that potentially contained mineral deposits based on geology, mineral occurrences, geophysics, soil and stream sediment geochemistry, alteration mineral assemblages inferred from satellite imagery, BLM claims and permit data, mineral exploration activity, and existing mineral resource assessment data, and (3) evaluating the level of mineral resource potential and level of certainty associated with the outlined areas using BLM assessment categories. A full description of the assessment is provided in the accompanying report (Day and others, 2016).
Sagebrush Focal Areas, identified by agencies of the DOI, are high-quality sagebrush habitat areas supporting high densities of breeding sage-grouse. Sagebrush Focal Areas are within priority habitat areas, or areas where land use measures are intended to minimize or avoid habitat disturbance. Seven Sagebrush Focal Areas are within the USGS Sagebrush Mineral Resource Assessment project study area. They include the Bear River Watershed, North-Central Idaho, North-Central Montana, Southeastern Oregon and North-Central Nevada, Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Southern Idaho and Northern Nevada, and Southwestern and South-Central Wyoming Sagebrush Focal Areas as well as additional areas in Nevada (termed the Nevada additions) proposed by the State of Nevada. Landscape-scale conservation efforts by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), state agencies, private land owners, and other partners are striving to conserve the breeding sagebrush habitat for the greater sage-grouse across these areas.