Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released his review of the greater sage-grouse conservation plan. The original conservation plan was implemented two years ago after extensive work and collaboration by a bipartisan group of Western stakeholders, including federal, state and local governments, as well as ranchers, farmers, sports groups, conservationists and industry representatives.
This order is another reckless decision made by special interests and Washington politicians behind closed doors – it is a clear giveaway to industry that undermines years of work by Western governors, communities and stakeholders,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project. “These irresponsible changes will not only put this species at risk, but will jeopardize access to public lands and the outdoor economy that Western communities rely on. Secretary Zinke’s careless plan ignores bipartisan, science based results, and could well fast-track the greater sage-grouse’s listing as an endangered species.”
After years of work and cooperation by federal agencies, Western states and diverse stakeholders, a plan was released in 2015 to conserve habitat for the greater sage-grouse to avoid listing the bird under the Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service specifically cited habitat preservation as the reason for removing the bird from consideration.
This year, Republican Governor of Wyoming Matt Mead and Democratic Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper sent two letters to Secretary Zinke opposing changes to the plan. Neither letter has received a public response from the Secretary.
Western Governors met with Secretary Zinke behind closed doors at their annual Western Governors Association meeting about the imperiled bird. Again, urging the Secretary not to make wholesale changes to the plans. Those requests where ignored.
Listing the bird under the Endangered Species Act would result in numerous lawsuits from both sides of the issue, and prohibit development across a wide swath of public land.