Today, after years of hard work and unprecedented collaboration across all levels of westerners, the Interior Department came out with an historic announcement for American conservation.
Thanks largely to the immense effort and cooperation of ranchers, sportsmen and women, farmers, hunters, small business owners, industry, and other western stakeholders, the Greater sage-grouse will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act.
And thanks to that same on-the-ground western effort, coupled with strong leadership and input from local, state, and federal governments and officials, the Bureau of Land Management finalized plans to protect millions of acres of Greater sage-grouse habitat—a move that also protects western economies for the long haul.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and her team deserve our thanks for this historic announcement, and for listening to the Western voices who should matter most in managing Western landscapes. This effort sets a new conservation model for the American West in the 21st century — one where the farmers, ranchers, sportsmen and sportswomen have a seat at the table alongside the energy industry. Thanks to these plans, the billion dollar outdoor economy that depends on healthy sage brush habitat and oil and gas development can coexist.
Today’s finalized BLM management plans are also good news for a diverse series of stakeholders. Because of the unprecedented collaborative effort that went into crafting these plans, there’s something in them for everyone. The oil and gas industry now has greater certainty—in terms of which lands are designated as priority grouse habitat, and the many more that are free and open—for long-term planning. Farmers and ranchers, who have been at the forefront of the private conservation effort, can be assured of an open and working healthy rangeland habitat. And sportsmen can enjoy the other 350 species of wildlife, apart from the sage-grouse, that will benefit from this habitat conservation.
All the stakeholders in the private sector, as well as the local, state, and federal governments, whose hard work is today represented in today’s announcements. This is step one—now, it’s time to dig in and get to work implementing these plans to ensure that our western way of life continues to thrive.
Take a minute to thank Secretary Jewell for her leadership in this historic step for American conservation.