Federal agencies and states should do more to conserve sage-grouse for the species to persist long-term. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mountain-Prairie Region
More than half of remaining sage-grouse range is administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. In 2015, these agencies completed an unprecedented planning process to update management plans covering more than 60 million acres in the West with new measures to conserve sage-grouse and their habitat. All land use decisions, from oil and gas development, to grazing, to wildlife conservation on these public lands are governed by these plans.
The Trump administration is now threatening to undo the federal sage-grouse plans, to the dismay of hundreds of stakeholders who collaborated for years to develop them. Weakening current conservation measures could have major consequences beyond just sage-grouse; other wildlife, watersheds, sagebrush grasslands and the western communities and economies that depend on them all stand to lose.
Half of sage-grouse habitat has already been lost forever. The remainder is threatened by oil and gas drilling, livestock grazing, mining, transmission, off-road vehicle use and other factors. Recently completed federal land use plan amendments are key to protecting and restoring sage-grouse and hundreds of other species that depend on sagebrush grasslands on public lands. Wildlife advocates are encouraged to defend against the Trump administration's efforts to weaken and eliminate key conservation measures in these plans.
A SAGE-GROUSE CONSERVATION CHECKLIST
Rather than weaken the sage-grouse plans, the Trump administration should consider ways to improve them. Experts have identified opportunities to strengthen conservation and management of the species based on the best available scientific information.