'The Sagebrush Sea'
(DVD / NR / 2015 / PBS)
Overview: One of the most overlooked ecosystems in the America West is a massive sea of sagebrush that stretches across 11 states. This spartan landscape supports more than 170 species of birds and mammals. Among those that have adapted to survive here are the Greater Sage-Grouse. Today, they must contend with wells and pipelines tapping the resources buried deep below. The sagebrush and the grouse carry on, but they re losing ground.
DVD Verdict: Without sage, the land would be a dust bowl; sage is the foundation of the vast beautiful ecosystem of the west. Sage with twisted shrubs and deep roots survive in the most extreme weather from high desert heat to freezing cold in some 300,000 square miles of ecosystem, in eleven western states in North America called The Big Empty. Sage brush live for some one hundred fifty years at altitudes above 3,000 feet which is considered a high desert, a place of scares water, where 60% of water comes from snow.
Pronghorns migrate within the sage and these antelopes are the fastest sprinters in the continent, adapted to outrun any big cat including the long extinct American cheetah. Western grouse can only be found in America. Male grouse may live up to four years and can pass their genes only for two summers so fights between males are ferocious. Scientist counted a single male grouse mating 37 times with 37 females in 37 minutes while fighting all other males in between those 37 minutes.
With those oil rigs popping all over the Big Empty as well as humans and farms, it is not difficult to see why the number of these majestic American bird has dwindled to only couple hundred thousand from millions with a future as uncertain as the vast wilderness of the beautiful sage ecosystem of the west. Well done documentary, superb cinematography and well matched narration by Allison Argo. [Charlie A.] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.