Western Governors’ Association Releases Major Sage Grouse Report Highlighting State & Local Efforts to Conserve the Species

March 24, 2014

For Immediate Release

The Sage Grouse Initiative commends the impressive collaboration that’s underway at federal, state and local levels to proactively address the threats to sage grouse and sagebrush habitat.  SGI is an active participant of the State-Federal Sage Grouse Task force of the Western Governors’ Association. The new report summarizes federal efforts, and goes into depth on the state and local accomplishments. 

To date, all states have local working groups actively participating in conservation. All have conservation plans, and nearly all have initiatives to protect sage grouse populations and habitat.  In addition, Montana Governor Steve Bullock established a sage grouse advisory council in 2013, with final recommendations pending approval early in 2014. The report on page 6 highlights that all 11 western states are participating in the Sage Grouse Initiative.

 Please share the Western Governors’ Association press release below and download the reports. We have added the PDFs to our Science & Policy page.

New WGA Sage Grouse Inventory Details Conservation Work in 11 Western States

Conservation of the greater sage-grouse and its habitat has been a top priority in 11 Western states for several years. That work took on heightened importance when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in 2010 listed the greater sage-grouse as “warranted but precluded” under the Endangered Species Act.

Western Governors and then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar formed the State-Federal Sage-Grouse Task Force in 2012 to implement the conservation actions necessary to preclude the need for fully listing the sage-grouse. If fully listed, the economic impacts to states with sage-grouse habitat could be significant.

Since then Western states, through the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) and Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA), have worked collaboratively to address challenges facing sage-grouse and their habitat.

At the Governors’ request WGA and WAFWA created the first annual Sage-Grouse Inventory in 2011 to illustrate to FWS and the public how states and counties were taking proactive, voluntary steps to preclude the need to put the greater sage-grouse and Gunnison sage-grouse on the federal endangered species list.

WGA just published the third annual Sage-Grouse Inventory, which highlights new sage-grouse conservation activities in 2013, along with the Sage-Grouse Appendix, which contains all initiatives reported by the relevant states and counties between 2011 and 2013.

As the letter that accompanied the reports delivered to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell noted: “The new reports abundantly illustrate the many ways that states and counties are taking proactive, voluntary steps to conserve the species – steps which are consistent with the Conservation Objectives Team report, and other conservation requirements, issued by the Service. Reading them is a reminder that these steps preclude the need to include the greater sage-grouse on the federal endangered species list.” (Read the entire letter.)

The information about gunnison sage-grouse conservation is particularly timely as the FWS is expected to rule on May 12. The ruling on greater sage-grouse is expected in 2015.

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The Sage Grouse Initiative is a partnership-based, science-driven effort that uses voluntary incentives to proactively conserve America’s western rangelands, wildlife, and rural way of life. This initiative is part of Working Lands For Wildlife, which is led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.