Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Jewell: Western sagebrush defense plan will endure

Her 2015 secretarial order to protect sagebrush steppe spanning an area stretching from the Dakotas west to Oregon, Washington and northern California is considered by public lands experts, outdoor enthusiasts and scientists as one of the most significant federal land policy changes since the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. It regulated public lands to prevent overgrazing. Jewell’s order directed federal resources for the first time to fight massive blazes in open sagebrush steppe that supports cattle ranching, recreation and some 350 species of wildlife, including sage grouse. She said she will pass along information from that meeting to Republican Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to succeed her. Zinke has advocated increased drilling and mining on public lands, but his position on Jewell’s secretarial order is not clear. Zinke’s communications director, Heather Smith, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Jewell also said she will provide the transition team details “on the importance of maintaining the momentum that we have in arguably one of the most effective examples of government working together collaboratively at all levels.”...more

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