Local efforts save sage grouse from ESA listing
Washington—Due to the success of state and local conservation efforts, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced today its decision not to list the greater sage grouse as an endangered species. The American Farm Bureau is a strong supporter of meaningful recovery efforts and counts today’s decision as a testament to the great strides states and landowners can make when they work cooperatively to develop effective wildlife management plans.
“Conservation plans developed at the state and local levels provide the greatest opportunity for species success, and we believe today’s decision endorses that approach,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “Farmers and ranchers last year called on the federal government to allow time for these plans to work, and now we’re seeing positive results and real success with the birds’ populations across the Western states. State, local and industry partners have accomplished in just a few years a level of success largely unseen through 42 years of federal Endangered Species Act implementation.”
While today’s announcement is a victory for conservation work and species recovery at the local level, the Bureau of Land Management and USDA Forest Service also announced today their decision to move forward with land management plans which address sage grouse populations across the birds’ 184 million acre range. Farmers and ranchers are concerned that these new plans may threaten to further erode the multiple-use mandate charged to land management agencies by restricting existing and future rangeland management. The new plans add new land use restrictions which may affect the timing of range improvements, reduce livestock numbers, eliminate or reduce actively permitted grazing allotments, or impact the ability to renew future livestock permits.
“Continued active management of western rangelands through proper grazing management has and can continue to enhance sage grouse habitat and populations,” Stallman said. “These new plans send a mixed message by punishing livestock permittees who are already working to conserve species and resources.”