Today, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke received recommendations from his staff to reduce conservation efforts that currently protect the iconic sage grouse and its habitat, risking the survival of this bird and the more than 350 species these same lands support.
The existing bipartisan conservation plans took nearly a decade of collaborative and coordinated efforts among a variety of stakeholders, including affected states and industries, while the review directed by Secretary Zinke’s June secretarial order took a mere 60 days.
The following statement is from Nada Culver, senior director of Agency Policy and Planning at The Wilderness Society:
“The evaluation report and recommendations direct a reevaluation of habitat protection that could fundamentally undermine the structure and goals of these plans. The recommendations are a sideways attempt to abandon habitat protection for unfettered oil and gas development and in favor of discredited, narrow tools like captive breeding and population targets. Gutting the structure of these plans puts the entire landscape at risk.
“Manufacturing new grouse is not a replacement for a comprehensive vision to keep the grouse and its habitat thriving. Interior’s 60-day review shows a callous disregard for nearly a decade of research and collaborative work by states and agencies, while ignoring the western communities who weighed in with millions of comments and who simply want to see the plans left to work as intended.”