They’re coming after our big game habitat.
In an article published early this week our executive director laid out the catalyst and history of our current sage-grouse conservation plans. To summarize: in order to keep the bird off the endangered species list and invoke controversial regulations that a listing would entail, Westerners rolled up their sleeves to formulate 98 regional plans that would foster sustainable sage-grouse recovery. Each plan was individually tailored to its region to incorporate local economies, local governments, energy and mineral resources, grazing, hunting and other outdoor recreation, and wildlife characteristics. It was a monumental effort of collaboration about 10 years and two Presidents in the making.
Now, Secretary Zinke, the leader of the Interior Department in charge of implementing those plans, wants to crumple those plans into a ball and toss them into a trash can to favor special interests in Washington D.C. But what he didn’t expect was that his own constituency, western hunters, would step into the fray and guard the sage-grouse plans like a momma grizzly.
Why? Because across the west our big game populations are declining. The sage-grouse serves as the canary in the coal mine. It’s spiral towards extinction reflects the fate of our most cherished game species and 350 other western plants and animals found in sage brush country. We know that what is good for the bird is good for the herd, which is why sportsmen are demanding we give the current sage-grouse plans a chance to work.
Click here to contact the Interior Department and ask them to keep the current sage-grouse plans intact with just a few clicks.
Check out this map for details on the overlap of important big game and sage-grouse habitat.
Questions regarding current sage-grouse plans:
Question 1: Are these plans anti-energy development? Answer: No. A study says 73-81% of high priority energy development is outside current sage-grouse conservation areas.
Question 2: How do the current plans effect grazing? Answer: In different ways. In high priority SG habitat grazing must maintain certain habitat standards such as grass stubble height.
Question 3: Wouldn’t each state be better off with their own plan? Answer: That is exactly what the current plans offer. In fact, there are 98 separate regional plans.
Question 4: Can small changes be made to the current plans? Answer: Yes! And, perhaps that is appropriate in some places. But small changes do not require the plans to be terminated.
Question 5: Is protecting the SG habitat a “burden” to other industries? Answer: These plans only affect public lands, which are managed for multiple use. All stakeholders deserve an equal voice, time to collaborate and compromise. In essence, current SG plans did just that- all industries came together to agree on a path forward.