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Environment & Science

Zinke Calls For Review Of Sage Grouse Conservation Efforts

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order to review federal efforts to conserve imperiled sage grouse populations across 11 western states.

The action taken late yesterday. The order is meant to improve sage grouse conservation and collaboration between the federal government, states and local communities.  He told reporters during a conference call he has heard concern from some governors and residents that their suggestions are falling on deaf ears.

“Certainly while we in the federal government have responsibility under the endangered species act to take action, we also want to be a good neighbor, a good partner,” said Zinke.

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Credit Department of the Interior
U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke

Zinke’s order reviews a 2015 conservation plan put into place by the Obama Administration.

Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project said “Secretary Zinke’s order undermines years of bipartisan collaboration to conserve the greater sage-grouse. It is a slap in the face to Western communities, coalitions, wildlife managers, private landowners, industry groups and governors in both parties – all who diligently worked to find common ground and a workable solution to prevent the bird from landing on the endangered species list.”

In 2014, before the current conservation plan, the Bureau of Land Management stated that the reason for such a plan was important because, “The loss of sagebrush ecosystems are negatively affecting many of the more than 350 species of plants and animals that depend on sagebrush ecosystems for all or part of their existence including Greater Sage-Grouse as well as Pygmy Rabbit, Mule Deer, and Golden Eagles.”

With a review, conservation organizations are concerned about the possible loss of habitat to other purposes, threatening to place the grouse on the Endangered Species list.