Submitted by Western Values Project

Congressional leaders’ agreement in the “cr-omnibus” dealing with sage-grouse and the Fish and Wildlife Service disregarded the Department of Interior’s guidance and the will of western voters. Western voters and stakeholders have made it clear that they demand immediate action on the Greater sage-grouse of their leaders.

However, because westerners expect immediate action on sage-grouse, congressional leaders’ agreement changes nothing about the necessary timeline for action on the Greater sage-grouse.

“There is no doubt that congressional leaders’ agreement on sage-grouse and the Fish and Wildlife Service is profoundly misguided and ignores the wishes of Department of Interior and the American West,” said WVP Director Chris Saeger. “But the Bureau of Land Management and governors of states in the American West must keep moving forward toward implementing plans for Greater sage-grouse on the same timeline they’ve been working with in order to protect our wildlife and our western way of life. Leaders from the sportsmen, cattle ranching, outdoor recreation, energy development, government and business communities have all repeatedly called for fast action on the sage-grouse. And Westerners have made it clear time and time again that they expect their leaders to act now. The actions of a dysfunctional Congress don’t change the need for immediate action on sage-grouse.”

The sportsmen, ranchers, businesses and outdoor recreation economies of the Western United States are counting on state and federal leaders to balance conservation with other uses in the sagebrush ecosystems they depend on, and offer them the certainty they need. Polling has repeatedly shown that a solid majority in the American West supports strong plans for Greater sage-grouse conservation.

Stakeholders are engaged in the planning process, and officials from every side of the issue have repeatedly pointed to the unprecedented spirit of cooperation and level of momentum in the planning process. It is all the more important now that BLM and state leaders continue to work with westerners to put out strong plans for Greater sage-grouse conservation in the immediate future.

Background information About WVP

Western Values Project gives voice to Western values in the national conversation about energy development and public lands conservation – a space too often dominated by industry lobbyists and their allies in government. A majority of folks who live in the Rocky Mountain West strongly believe in balancing oil and gas development with protecting our Western way of life. It’s why businesses locate here, people visit from around the world, and why millions choose to call the region home. Westerners want and expect our public lands to support good-paying jobs, provide world-class recreation and tourism opportunities, and support healthy, thriving communities – a mix only possible when our government and industry strikes the right balance between energy development and conservation. Founded in 2013 and based in Bozeman and Denver, Western Values Project echoes that opinion.

WVP and its allies have been heavily involved in efforts around the Greater sage-grouse. This fall WVP and Pew Charitable Trusts released an economic report which found that recreational spending on BLM sage-brush land tops $1 billion. WVP also commissioned Western EcoSystems Technology to release  the Sage-Grouse Compatibility Report, which highlighted the relatively insignificant overlap between high-energy development potential lands and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated sage-grouse Priority Areas for Conservation, concluding that sage-grouse conservation can coexist with robust energy development in the American West.