Decisions regarding the future management of the Greater Sage-Grouse (GSG) and whether or not to list the species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are weighing heavily on Westerners. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) are proposing policies to manage GSG on public lands in an attempt to prevent a listing. They’ve released dozens of draft land use plan amendments with new GSG management restrictions, which unfortunately do not balance GSG conservation with continued economic activity on western public lands. These plans are not backed by sound science, and will severely curb multiple uses, including grazing, motorized recreation, and natural resource development.
Western Energy Alliance is actively engaging the agencies on these overly-restrictive plans. We commissioned reports exposing the flaws in the science they’re using. Our analyses from Wildlife Biologist Dr. Rob Roy Ramey are available on our sage grouse page. We also brought our concerns with the science to the Secretary of the Interior, provided technical comments on the many planning documents, and spearheaded stakeholder coalitions to show a united front from multiple users of public lands.
In northwest Colorado, Western Energy Alliance joined county commissioners and civic, conservation, recreation, and industry groups –thirty groups in total – in sending a letter to BLM and USFS expressing mutual concerns with the proposed GSG restrictions. The coalition worked with Governor Hickenlooper’s office as it recommended a Colorado alternative based on adaptive management and cooperative consultation between local stakeholders, the state, and federal agencies.
The Department of the Interior is starting to take notice. Earlier this week, Secretary Sally Jewell joined Governor Hickenlooper in a visit to the Bord Gulch Ranch in northwest Colorado to see firsthand how on-the-ground, local efforts to protect the species are working.
Amendments are underway in Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. We’re engaging numerous stakeholders to ensure GSG management on public lands reflects state plans that protect GSG while enabling crucial economic activities
But there is much more to be done. Stakeholders impacted by the GSG listing decision need to keep working collaboratively to demand that the federal government reconsider its top-down approach and instead encourage state and local conservation efforts that are more effective in protecting the species. Many states and counties have invested millions in GSG conservation over the years and have crafted and implemented robust conservation plans that were developed using a bottom-up process with input from diverse stakeholders.
If your organization wants to learn more or is interested in participating in any of the collaborative efforts described above, please contact Brian Meinhart.
The staff of Western Energy Alliance and I are always available to answer any questions about western oil and natural gas development. We welcome the opportunity to provide information or come speak to your group about the issues. We’re available at (303) 623-0987 or via email – Ursula Rick, Manager of Regulatory Affairs Analyst; Brian Meinhart, Policy Analyst; and Aaron Johnson, Communications Analyst.
Kathleen M. Sgamma
VP, Government & Public Affairs
Western Energy Alliance
410 17th St., Suite 700
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 893-0709 fax