Washington, D.C. — As the Trump administration reconsiders plans to protect the greater sage-grouse, the Center for American Progress released a new issue brief today showing how that effort threatens to undermine a historic collaboration between state and federal officials and throw 11 Western states into economic uncertainty.
In June, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke ordered his agency to review a 2015 agreement that protects the habitat of the sage-grouse in an area that runs from California to the Dakotas. That review is weighing changes that would favor more energy exploration and public land development in sage-grouse habitat. A task force is expected to report back in August.
“The Trump administration should be wary of tinkering with a plan that was constructed over many years through a collaborative effort among states and federal agencies with input from a wide range of stakeholders, including developers, ranchers, and other public land users,” said Jim Lyons, CAP senior fellow and author of the brief. “The carefully constructed strategy which succeeded in avoiding the need for Endangered Species Act protections for the sage-grouse retains broad support from governors in the affected states—Democrats and Republicans alike.”
The issue brief praises the bipartisan state-federal effort that went into reaching an agreement that led to conserving the sage-grouse and its habitat. The strategy included measures to reduce the risks of rangeland fire and encouraged voluntary measures to improve habitat on private ranchlands. In addition, it balanced protection of the sagebrush ecosystem—on which the sage-grouse and more than 350 wildlife species depend—with development by guiding oil and gas production to areas with the highest energy potential and the lowest conflict with sage-grouse habitat. That helps energy developers avoid the uncertainty and potential delays associated with questions about wildlife conservation.
Click here to read “Lessons Learned from the State-Federal Effort to Conserve the Greater Sage-Grouse” by Jim Lyons.
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