Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Western governors to examine species law reform at Boise workshop

If federal officials decided the sage grouse was not worthy of threatened status under the Endangered Species Act, then why did they rewrite land management plans to increase protection for the grouse? Idaho Gov. Butch Otter posed this rhetorical question to reporters early this month as he talked about the suit he’s filing against the plan revisions of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, saying the feds strayed from the collaborative draft based on his Idaho task force’s recommendations. Listing the bird would have imposed new regulatory requirements and potentially restricted grazing, roads and energy development on public lands across the West. On Tuesday, Otter will get his chance to make the case that the 42-year-old law needs reforming. He hosts a workshop Tuesday at the Riverside Hotel in Garden City from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., sponsored by the Western Governor’s Association, examining ways that can make the law work better. WGA Chairman Matt Mead, a Republican from Wyoming, leads the governors’ initiative to examine the act and hosted the first of five forums in Cody, Wyo., in November. At Tuesday’s Boise workshop, experts like Owyhee County rancher Brenda Richards and Nature Conservancy of Idaho public affairs director Will Whelan will share best practices and case studies on species management. The information collected at the forums will become part of a report that will guide legislative, regulatory or legal actions to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the ESA...more

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