U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) joined U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) this week in introducing the Greater Sage Grouse Protection and Recovery Act of 2017, legislation allowing states to implement their own specific conservation and management plans to protect greater sage grouse populations and their habitats, in lieu of federal management. Original cosponsors of the bill include U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Dean Heller (R-NV), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Mike Lee (R-UT).
“It’s the states that are best positioned to understand how to manage the needs of their sage grouse populations,” Enzi said. “Wyoming has done a great job working tirelessly with stakeholders over many years to protect the sage grouse. It is important that we ensure western states are able to implement their local management plans without interference from Washington.”
Sage grouse habitat is spread out over more than a quarter million square miles throughout the west. Currently, the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service manage federal lands with sage-grouse habitat under nearly 100 separate land use plans affecting tens of millions of acres. There are nine in Wyoming.
The Greater Sage Grouse Protection and Recovery Act would allow states to choose between implementing their own conservation and management plans based on their community-specific needs or deferring to federal agencies for greater sage-grouse protection. Further, this legislation would prohibit the Secretary of Interior from conducting large scale mineral withdrawals for the protection of greater sage-grouse. A companion measure to this legislation was introduced in the House on January 13 with eleven original sponsors from seven western states.
More about the bill:
• For 10 years, the current status of the bird under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) will be maintained, which the Fish and Wildlife Service has determined does not warrant ESA protection.
• The BLM and Forest Service will be required to report annually to Congress on the status of the species on federal lands under their jurisdictions.
• The bill also prevents litigation aimed at upending this carefully crafted compromise that gives state plans a chance to work in response to data on population trends compiled by the federal agencies.