Today’s announcement is a testament to the tireless work of our local communities, along with the state, to enhance conservation efforts. Colorado farmers, ranchers, local governments, conservationists, and community members have worked for years to find innovative ways to protect sage grouse habitat. This decision ends the uncertainty hanging over the heads of families, farms, and businesses on the western slope. It’s also another reminder that Coloradans can work together to develop commonsense solutions to difficult problems that can serve as a model for the nation. Now it’s important that the collaboration and hard work continue to effectively and successfully implement the state, federal and voluntary plans in a way that works for everyone.Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith issued this statement:
This is an historic decision that marks a critical point in one of this nation’s most ambitious and historic planning initiatives to save the iconic Greater sage grouse and its vast and underappreciated sagebrush home. The scope and scale of this unprecedented effort is astounding. It highlights that through collaboration, diverse interests can achieve unbelievable results - focusing on a shared goal and not our perceived differences.And the Western Energy Alliance said:
We believe that comprehensive development and implementation of federal and state land use and Greater sage grouse plans will provide the opportunity to go above and beyond the protections of the Endangered Species Act.
However, it is critical that we work together to implement BLM plans and ensure every state plan is striving to complement important conservation objectives on private and state lands. These plans working together can ensure that Greater sage grouse and our sagebrush landscapes remain healthy and productive for generations to enjoy.
This landmark decision would not have been possible without the foresight and leadership of President Obama, Secretary Sally Jewell and our Governor John Hickenlooper. We all understand this is not the end. We will need to continue working with our state and federal partners to ensure this plan is effectively implemented for the long term viability of this bird and our critical sagebrush seas.
"We applaud Secretary Jewell’s decision that a listing of the Greater Sage-Grouse is not warranted,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs. “States, counties, federal agencies, industries, ranchers, private landowners and conservation groups have come together to successfully protect the sage grouse and its habitat. The Fish and Wildlife Service has correctly recognized that those efforts are more effective than a federal listing under the Endangered Species Act.
“The Interior Department arrived at the right decision, but took the wrong path to get there. The decision rests on robust population numbers and effective state and local efforts that are working to protect the species, not the flawed federal land use plans that the Secretary also released today. As state wildlife agencies have shown, sage grouse populations have not only rebounded recently but are stable over the long-term. The scientific work underpinning our Data Quality Act challenges will be invaluable to support the not-warranted decision while still enabling legal challenges to the land use plans to move forward.
“We are disappointed that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service persist with top-down, centralized management of sage-grouse on public lands that discourages more effective western efforts,” continued Sgamma. “Rather than incorporating state sage grouse plans into the federal plans, BLM has discounted the input and conservation work of governors, counties, and productive public land users in favor of a uniform approach.
“In our protests of the land use plans, we highlighted the many corners that were cut in the process that leave the agencies vulnerable to legal challenge. The plans exaggerate the impact from energy development and fail to recognize that oil and natural gas coexists with sage grouse conservation. In fact, companies already avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts and have implemented over 770 specific conservation measures to protect sage grouse,” concluded Sgamma.