Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Editorial: Western perspective from Zinke changes sage grouse policy

Federal officials are beginning to realize that cattle are not the enemy of wildlife on the open range.

When a team of Interior Department officials this week released a proposal to loosen land use restrictions in sage grouse country, they included a positive statement on the impact of livestock grazing on sage grouse habitat. The document says “proper grazing management is compatible with conserving GRSG habitat and, in some situations, may support or benefit habitat management.”

That change in policy is a victory for ranchers and a victory for Nevada, which went to great lengths under Gov. Brian Sandoval to craft a state-specific sage grouse conservation plan. Under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s order, states will have more leeway when it comes to decisions involving traditional land uses such as grazing, mining and energy production.

Adopting a more flexible sage grouse policy that includes state and local guidance makes sense. That was the original goal here in Nevada, before our state was molded in with the rest of the West. 
One of the nine people on the Interior’s Sage Grouse Review Team is none other than John Ruhs, former Nevada Bureau of Land Management director and now the federal agency’s deputy director of operations. As state director, Ruhs declared that “a collaborative network of local, state and federal partners is essential for protecting the sagebrush ecosystem while ensuring multiple uses.”

The change is also a victory for Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Elko County Commissioners.

“I agree with Secretary Zinke that the federal government and Nevada can protect the sage-grouse and its habitat, while also ensuring that conservation efforts do not undermine job growth and local communities,” Laxalt said in response to this week’s announcement.

No comments: