Obama Administration Denies ESA protection for Greater sage-grouse

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September 25, 2015

Online Messenger #321

The Obama Administration’s failure to provide Endangered Species Act protection for the Greater sage-grouse is a profound disappointment. In its determination signed Monday, Sept. 21, the Department of Interior found the species “Not Warranted” for federal listing.

The government’s decision wasn’t based on a healthy uptick in sage-grouse populations or a long-term trend towards recovery. Indeed, the best and most recent science shows the birds’ trajectory in continued decline.

The government’s decision wasn’t based on firm commitments in the federal land use plans that were also finalized the same day. As WWP has repeatedly pointed out, the plans are full of half-measures and future promises of change rather than strong management parameters that ensure sage-grouse survival.

Instead, the government’s decision was the result of political compromise by people whose dream of the west is of a “working” landscape, where leks and livestock can coexist, and where economic opportunities are unhindered by the fragile ecosystem of the sagebrush sea.

It’s a dream, a fantasy, a myth, and a lie. But it’s apparently easier to believe than to stand up and say “No” to the powerful extractive industries that control the private lands, the public leases, and the legislatures of the interior west. The plans are an uneven compromise, with token gains for sage-grouse and free reins to industry on most of the remaining sagebrush sea. Endangered Species Act protection would have protected sage-grouse everywhere it occurred; this week’s decisions offer very little of the protection the species truly needs.

Western Watersheds Project and our allies are taking a hard look at the approved plans and the listing decision. We’re not afraid to take a stand on the side of what the sage-grouse actually need, and we’re proud to have the support of members like you who care about the interior west and all its inhabitants. Thank you for standing with us.

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