Sage grouse could evade endangered status

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told Western governors Wednesday she is confident an Endangered Species Act listing of the greater sage grouse can be avoided, but that any additional delays in that decision would be counterproductive.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Western Governors’ Association at Lake Tahoe, Jewell criticized congressional action that put off any potential listing until after 2015. A court-ordered decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as to whether a listing is warranted or not is due by Sept. 30.

“The last thing you want is uncertainty,” Jewell said. “We have uncertainty now. If we delay, we will continue uncertainty.”

Last April, Jewell visited Reno to announce that a unique subspecies of sage grouse that lives only along the Nevada-California line, the bi-state sage grouse, does not need listing as a threatened or endangered species due to successful efforts to preserve bird habitat. The coming decision affects a much larger population of greater sage grouse that lives in Nevada and 10 other Western states.

Concerned a listing could come with crushing economic consequences, Western governors have worked to develop conservation strategies to avoid that outcome. Plans to conserve the bird and its habitat on federal land were recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service and are now under review.

Read the full article at the Reno-Gazette Journal

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