Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, has announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision to remove the Bi-State Greater Sage-Grouse from the Endangered Species List. The announcement comes in the midst of the ongoing FWS deliberation on whether the Greater Sage-Grouse should be listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Secretary Jewell’s announcement signals the success of the multiyear state lead collaborative conservation efforts in the Bi-State area. The Bi-State population of Greater Sage-Grouse inhabits approximately 4.5 million acres of land on the Nevada and California border and was designated as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) in 2010. The DPS classification recognizes that the Bi-State population of Greater Sage-Grouse is significantly genetically different from the rest of the population in the western United States, due to thousands of years of relative separation.
Since the early 2000s state and local agencies in California and Nevada along with federal agencies, landowners and businesses created and enacted successful conservation plans for the Bi-State Greater Sage Grouse. FWS’s decision to remove the Bi-State Greater Sage-Grouse from the Endangered Species list is a demonstration of the powerful role state and local conservation plans can be in efforts to protect wildlife. The 11 western states with populations of Greater Sage-Grouse have all been working diligently to create conservation plans tailored to balance protection of the birds with each states’ needs. The success of the Bi-State Plan is an encouraging sign that FWS may not need to take close to 100 million acres of land in the west offline completely in order to protect this species. IMA-NA is hopeful this development will encourage FWS to approach the listing of the Greater Sage-Grouse in a more realistic way.
Relatedly, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the “Sage-Grouse Protection and Conservation Act” (S.1036) on April 22. The legislation would allow states six years to create and implement state specific conservation plans before the Department of Interior could make its decision to list the Greater Sage-Grouse as threatened or endangered. Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT), is expected to introduced the House companion bill by the end of the week.
To read the Department of Interior’s press release click here.
To read Senator Gardner’s press release click here .