For Immediate Release
Trump Administration’s Sage-Grouse Plans Threaten Conservation of the Species
WASHINGTON (August 1, 2018) – An analysis by Defenders of Wildlife of the Trump administration’s proposed amendments to seven key conservation measures in the existing federal greater sage-grouse conservation strategy found that none of the changes improve management for the species, and many would only serve to reduce protections already in place.
The administration is seeking to change six Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sage-grouse conservation plans covering seven western states, including California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Defenders' review found the proposed plan amendments would eliminate designated habitat areas and downgrade protections against oil and gas development, livestock grazing, and other land use in the core of sage-grouse range.
Defenders will also submit written comments during the public comment period on the proposed plan amendments, which closes on August 2.
Mark Salvo, vice president of landscape conservation for Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“The Trump administration’s proposed changes would put sage-grouse in greater peril and undermine the collaborative efforts of federal agencies, state governments, private landowners, sportsmen and conservationists to save the species. None of the proposed amendments would actually improve sage-grouse conservation. Meddling with these plans now will not only jeopardize grouse and their habitat, but also communities and economies that depend on a healthy Sagebrush Sea.
“The administration’s goal has been clear from the start: expand oil and gas drilling in sage-grouse habitat, regardless of the consequences to wildlife and wild lands. The Trump administration should be ashamed.”
National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy
The National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy was the most comprehensive land use planning process ever undertaken by the Bureau of Land Management. It recognized 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, the strategy is designed to conserve hundreds of fish and wildlife species, support a billion-dollar recreation economy and provide for balanced multiple use on public lands in 11 Western states. Public opinion polling shows that large majorities of voters in these states support efforts to protect sage-grouse, including listing the bird under the Endangered Species Act, if necessary.
Greater sage-grouse occur in parts of 11 U.S. states -- North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington -- and two Canadian provinces. The species has lost approximately half of its original range, and populations have declined by more than 90 percent from historic levels.
Sage-grouse require large expanses of healthy sagebrush steppe, an increasingly rare habitat in the West. Millions of acres of the Sagebrush Sea have been lost to agriculture and development over the past 200 years. What remains is fragmented and degraded by poorly managed oil and gas drilling, livestock grazing, mining, unnatural fire, invasive weeds, off-road vehicles, roads, fences, pipelines and utility corridors.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined the greater sage-grouse did not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2015, citing the range-wide effort by federal agencies and states to conserve the bird. Subsequent information indicates that more (not less) must be done to conserve the species, including an October 2016 study by the U.S. Geological Survey that found that sage-grouse populations in Wyoming declined 2.5 percent annually between 1984 and 2008 due to oil and gas development.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 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.