Report explains how states can avoid sage grouse protectionsCHEYENNE, Wyo. — Conservation groups are welcoming a federal report spelling out how sage grouse should be managed in 11 Western states to avoid new federal protections.
By: BEN NEARY, The Associated Press
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Conservation groups are welcoming a federal report spelling out how sage grouse should be managed in 11 Western states to avoid new federal protections.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s draft report issued Thursday advises states and federal land management agencies to act immediately to “stop the bleeding of continuing habitat and population losses.”
The report is certain to command attention in Western states where listing sage grouse as endangered could result in federal restrictions on energy development and other activities.
Sage grouse are found in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. They also inhabit Canada.
Federal and state sage grouse experts, collectively called a conservation objectives team, wrote the report. A final version should be out this fall after other scientists review it.
Brian Rutledge, with the Rocky Mountain region of the Audubon Society, said Friday the report underscores the importance of avoiding federal protections for the bird. “We all know that this is about fragmentation of habitat, and that stopping the fragmenting is how we stop the problem,” Rutledge said. He said new technologies, particularly in energy development and mining, can help limit development’s disturbance in sage grouse areas.
“There’s no one way that’s going to work every place,” Rutledge said. “But the common theme has to be to limit the disturbance and reclaim the areas that we’ve already damaged and haven’t reclaimed.”