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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9, 2017
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Wildlife Federations' Statement on Sage-Grouse Plan Review
Wednesday August 9, 2017   |
Monday, the Interior Department released recommendations of an internal review of the greater sage-grouse conservation plans. The recommendations call for a range of dramatic changes to the state and federal plans adopted in the previous Administration to prevent an Endangered Species Act listing for the greater sage-grouse across the West.

Dave Chadwick, Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation, said:

"Sportsmen, ranchers, public land managers, wildlife biologists, the energy industry, and countless other stakeholders spent years developing the state and federal plans to prevent the sage-grouse from becoming endangered. It was an unprecedented effort, based on the best science and hard work across the West, to protect habitat for the sage-grouse and maintain traditional land uses. Secretary Zinke used to say that he supported local input and collaboration, but now he has opened the door to a top-down rewrite of the plans that so many people put so much time into developing. Years of work on the ground have been replaced by two months of Washington politics. Montanans and Westerners deserve better."

Collin O'Mara, the National Wildlife Federation's president and CEO, said:

"While no plans are perfect, the best opportunity to conserve the sage grouse and ensure that listing under the Endangered Species Act remains not warranted is to implement and improve the current state and federal sage-grouse conservation plans. As numerous Western governors have clearly said, wholesale changes to the plans are not necessary and could derail years of hard work. It is essential that the governors, state agencies, land owners, conservation groups, and other Western stakeholders remain at the table as Interior considers these recommendations and that the public has ample opportunities for input.

"We all want to see sage grouse populations thrive, along with the more the 350 other species, including mule deer, pronghorn, and elk, that rely on Western sagebrush lands. To make this goal a reality, we must ensure that collaborative conservation efforts are kept on track among all key stakeholders and that we keep the focus on conserving and restoring the bird's habitat. We cannot fall victim to the false dichotomy that pits wildlife conservation against the administration's energy development goals—especially when the plans have no effect on energy development on more than 80 percent of important sage-grouse habitat. Simply put, drastic changes are not necessary—and some ideas, like resorting to captive breeding of grouse and switching to state-by-state population objectives, will not get us where we need to be.

"We strongly encourage the collaborative habitat restoration efforts to continue, so we can save the bird, save the herd, and sustainably enjoy our public lands for the benefit of sportsmen and women, outdoor recreationists, ranchers, and local economies."

Contact:
Dave Chadwick, Montana Wildlife Federation, 406-438-6478
Judi Kohler, National Wildlife Federation: 720-315-0855
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