Nature Conservancy Statement on Sage-Grouse Land Use Plan Review
The Nature Conservancy appreciates the work of the Department of the Interior Sage-Grouse Review Team (“Review Team”), and particularly their efforts to incorporate the input of the State Governors’ Sage-Grouse Task Force. Stabilizing and increasing populations of the Greater Sage-grouse are priorities for The Nature Conservancy, as populations have declined from more than 16 million to approximately several hundred thousand today.
Actions to benefit sage-grouse provide conservation benefits for both people and wildlife across the West. It is often said by those in the ranching community that “what’s good for the bird is good for the herd,” as healthy sage-grouse habitat improves forage for livestock. In addition, healthy sagebrush country also supports more than $1 billion generated by recreation and tourism on Bureau of Land Management lands. Habitat for sage-grouse is also home for 350 other species of unique American plants and animals, including elk, mule deer pronghorn antelope, golden eagles, and bluebirds.
The original sage-grouse land use plan amendments created by the federal agencies in September 2015 applied well-documented, interdisciplinary science and provided a cohesive strategy for addressing threats across the range of this unique bird of the American West, first described by Meriwether Lewis. They were essential to the determination that the sage-grouse did not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act.
As reflected in the Review Team’s recommendations, we recognize that concerns remain about some of the actions called for in the plans. While we have important reservations about some of those recommendations, and continue to believe that if any changes are to be made to the plans, they should be carefully targeted and science-based, we support the Review Team’s call for public involvement and engagement by all stakeholders, including federal, state and local governments, tribes, industry, ranchers and conservation groups, and look forward to participating in this work going forward. The Nature Conservancy believes we will realize the best results – for people and nature – when we tackle difficult challenges together.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.