Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Report highlights 11 states' efforts to protect sage grouse

A new report by the Western Governors' Association details notable conservation efforts undertaken in 2013 by 11 western states that have populations of the bird, including Utah. The states are in a scramble to prove to the federal government that individual conservation plans are sufficiently protective of the football-sized bird, which is an indicator species of sagebrush steppe habitat. In 2012, then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar formed a state and federal task force to try to avert a listing, which would have far reaching financial impacts estimated to be in the billions. Utah is also trying to stave off a listing of the Gunnison sage grouse, entering into a cooperative agreement last year with Colorado and nine local government entities to craft a conservation agreement. The Fish and Wildlife Service is slated to make its decision on that listing next month. The governors' association report notes that 2013 saw a tremendous amount of work undertaken by the states on sage grouse issues and also notes what is happening on the federal level. In addition to the individual state plans, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service are in the midst of revising 98 land use plans, with final proposals slated to be released throughout the summer and fall of this year...more

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