*For Immediate Release*
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2014
New Campaign Spurs Action on Sage-Grouse Plan:
Montana BLM Director, Jamie Connell, Urged to Act Now
Billboard, direct mail, and digital ads urge Montanans to contact Connell
Billings, MT– A new statewide advocacy campaign, Montanans for Sage Grouse Action, kicked off today, urging Montanans to contact Montana’s Bureau of Land Management Director, Jamie Connell, and ask her to end further delays creating a made-in-Montana plan for Greater sage-grouse conservation. Ten months after Governor Bullock released the recommendations of his Greater Sage-Grouse Habitat Conservation Advisory Council on January 29, 2014, Ms. Connell still has not acted on plans for sage-grouse. This campaign aims to educate the public about the need for a Montana BLM plan regarding sage-grouse management.
“In response to broad concern regarding the absence of a Montana-made solution to our region’s impending sage-grouse issue, we are launching a statewide campaign encouraging Montanans to call, email, and write asking for your immediate action,” said Mike Bowman, Advisory Council Member for the Western Values Project, in a letter to Ms. Connell. “Continued delays in formalizing a BLM management plan for the Greater sage-grouse in Montana dramatically threaten the continued survival of the species and hundreds more in its habitat – and the way of life of thousands of Montana ranchers, sportsmen, and business owners who rely on BLM land that is home to sensitive sage-grouse habitat.”
The sage-grouse—which shares its habitat with hundreds of wildlife species such as elk and mule deer—can only live in the sagebrush in the western plains. This sagebrush habitat has shrunk to half of the size it once was.
Protecting the sage-grouse habitat would conserve wild spaces so Montanans can enjoy activities like hiking, camping, hunting and fishing. A recent report by Pew Charitable Trusts and the WVP showed that conserving sage-grouse habitat also means conserving about $1.06 billion in economic output that the sagebrush ecosystems support, while another WVP study showed that there is minimal energy development potential in the sage-grouse’s critical habitat.
A Pew poll released in June shows that well over three-fourths of voters in the American West say it is important to protect the sage-grouse habitat, and an overwhelming majority support stronger BLM plans to protect the bird and its habitat.
WVP has called on leaders from the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and western states to work in concert toward working with all stakeholders to develop strong, proactive plans to conserve the sage-grouse and its habitat.