Thursday, September 22, 2016

Interior Department touts effort to protect sage grouse

A broad effort to save the greater sage grouse across the West without resorting to the Endangered Species Act is making progress, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday. “There’s some really good work going on,” Jewell said during a visit to a national wildlife refuge outside Denver, where she announced a year ago that the rare bird wouldn’t be listed as endangered or protected. Instead, conservation agencies are relying on cooperation among federal, state and local governments as well as help from oil and gas companies and ranchers. Endangered Species Act protection would have meant stricter restrictions on oil and gas exploration, grazing and other human activities. Greater sage grouse live in 11 Western states including Oregon. About 200,000 to 500,000 remain, down from a peak population of about 16 million. The Interior Department released a report Wednesday listing steps taken so far to save the birds. The report includes a study by the federal Bureau of Land Management and the University of California-Davis on the effects of the noise of oil and gas exploration and wells on the birds. Other steps include protecting ecosystems, fire suppression and allowing habitat exchanges with energy companies.  AP

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