For Immediate Release
Secretary Zinke Calls for Changes to Sage-Grouse Plans
WASHINGTON (Aug. 7, 2017) -- The Department of the Interior issued new direction to federal agencies today to revise current federal sage-grouse conservation plans to allow for more fossil fuel development, livestock grazing and other land uses that could negatively affect the grouse and hundreds of other species in the Sagebrush Sea.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO for Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“Interior’s proposed changes could irreparably damage sage-grouse habitat, jeopardizing an unprecedented, collaborative effort to conserve this iconic species.”
“While the Trump administration works to weaken the federal sage-grouse conservation plans, scientists recommend doing quite the opposite. The latest research advises strengthening conservation measures to protect and restore sage-grouse, which also benefits hundreds of other wildlife species, sagebrush grasslands and the Western communities and economies that depend on them.”
The National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy is the most comprehensive land use planning process ever undertaken by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Final plans released in September 2015 recognize the importance of conserving large expanses of sagebrush grasslands for sage-grouse and other sagebrush-dependent species, designating tens of millions of acres as priority habitat on federal lands. Costing more than $45 million dollars, the strategy will help conserve hundreds of fish and wildlife species, support a one billion-dollar recreation economy, and provide for multiple use on public lands in 11 western states.
In June 2017, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke issued Secretarial Order 3353, directing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey to identify provisions in the National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy that may require modification depending on their potential effects on energy extraction and other land uses. Per the order, officials must undertake the review of the sage-grouse plans in the context of Secretarial Order 3349, which aims to increase energy production on public lands.
The latest research on sage-grouse has identified opportunities in the current plans to better support sage-grouse conservation and recovery. Public opinion polling has found that large majorities of voters in key western states support protecting sage-grouse, including listing the bird under the Endangered Species Act, if necessary, to ensure their survival.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With nearly 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.