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Conservationists Advise Western Governors on Sage-Grouse Conservation

Date
May 10, 2012
Contact
Mark Salvo (503) 757-4221
In This Release
Climate + Energy, Wildlife

Thursday, May 10, 2012
Conservationists Advise Western Governors on Sage-Grouse Conservation

Letter Highlights Opportunities, Potential Pitfalls in Management Planning
Contact: Mark Salvo (503) 757-4221

Additional Contact:

JimCatlin, Executive Director, Wild Utah Project * 801-328-3550

Conservationists urged western governors today to seize theopportunity to join with the federal government to conserve greater sage-grouseon public and private lands in the West.

“Western states have an unprecedented—and urgent—opportunityto protect and recover sage-grouse,” said Mark Salvo, Director of the SagebrushSea Campaign for WildEarth Guardians. “The only other option is to list thespecies under the Endangered Species Act.”

An iconic indicator of sagebrush steppe, sage-grouse have declinedin number and range for decades due to a poor stewardship. Today they are acandidate for listing as “threatened” or “endangered” under the EndangeredSpecies Act.

Recognizing the need to improve management, the federalgovernment has initiated a comprehensive planning process to conserve andrecover sage-grouse. States have an important role in this process. They haveauthority over sage-grouse as a game species, own 5 percent of current sage-grouserange, and can ensure that private land owners meet their stewardshipobligations for sage-grouse.

“The good news is that we know how stewardship must change toprotect and restore sage-grouse,” said Jim Catlin, Executive Director of WildUtah Project. “Healthy sage-grouse habitat will also benefit human needs.Western governors have an opportunity to lead on sage-grouse conservation.”

Conservation organizations have developed a scientificallyviable recovery strategy for sage-grouse consistent with federal and state law,guidelines and polity. In a letter to governors, ten organizations haverecommended western states consider those conservation measures for state andprivate lands, appropriate funds for sage-grouse conservation, develop scientificallyviable sage-grouse conservation plans, and consider establishing an interstatecompact for sage-grouse conservation.

Sage-grouse is a favored game species, but hunting has beencurtailed in recent decades to conserve the species. Conservationists also advisedstates to inform the federal government—the largest landowner in sagebrushsteppe—how many sage-grouse they wish to harvest annually so that managementplans can account for those surpluses.

Conservation organizations that signed the letter includeWildEarth Guardians, The Larch Company, American Bird Conservancy, BiodiversityConservation Alliance, Grand Canyon Trust, Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, WildUtah Project, LivingRivers/Colorado Riverkeeper, Canyonlands Watershed Council, and SouthernUtah Wilderness Alliance.

Other Contact
Jim Catlin, Executive Director, Wild Utah Project * 801-328-3550
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