In a related case, a federal judge in Montana in May dealt a blow to the administration’s efforts, saying officials failed to protect sage grouse habitat when they issued energy leases on hundreds of square miles. Some in the state are cheering the new rules for easing the burden on ranchers, helping them partner in protecting grouse and their habitat. After President Donald Trump took office in 2017, his first of two Interior Department secretaries, Ryan Zinke, quickly moved to reopen discussion of the deal. Your email address will not be published. The six plans cover Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada/northeastern California, and Oregon. Their numbers have plummeted due to energy development, disease and other factors. Sage grouse have been in decline for decades due to habitat loss and other factors. Sometimes it is all they eat. "The Biden administration would have to start all over again, develop new plans with notice and comment, and provide a clear justification as to why the plans are yet again being changed,'' said Mary Greene, an attorney with the National Wildlife Federation. Related: U.S. rejects protections for greater sage grouse, “They weren’t perfect,” said Jeremy Austin, policy manager for the Oregon Natural Desert Association, “but they were something that a lot of different stakeholders came together to work on and found a solution, collaboratively, to move conservation forward for sage grouse.”. Your email address will not be published. It is a bird wholly of the sage. After Trump took office in 2017, the agency modified those plans to ease restrictions on development, which meant officials no longer had to prioritize development outside grouse habitat. Under former President Barack Obama, the Interior Department delayed lease sales on millions of acres of public land largely because of worries that intensive development could harm sage grouse. This spring, nearly two dozen of the nation’s top sage grouse scientists wrote a letter to the Bureau of Land Management saying that the proposal “appears to be ignoring current science, which threatens its federal trust responsibility to conserve and manage our natural resources and may have severe consequences for sage-grouse.”. In Oregon, invasive species, wildfire and overgrazing all pose threats to the bird’s habitat. Sign up to get important news and culture from around the Northwest, delivered to your inbox six days a week. Sage Grouse Also Goes By: Sage Cock, Sage Hen, Sage Turkey. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said the Interior Department did not do enough to encourage development outside of areas with greater sage grouse. Environmental conservation and preservation, Sharon Gary-Smith Elected New President of NAACP-Portland, Automatic Recount Initiated for the Gresham Mayoral Contest, Portland’s Black Business Owners Struggle to Find Relief, California, Oregon, Washington Issue Virus Travel Advisories, Democrats Won't Reach 2/3rd Supermajority in Legislature. ©2020 The Associated Press. I wrote about hunting these birds — and of the need to work to save their habitat — in this space recently, but this post is all about eating sage grouse.. First, know that sage grouse eat sage.. The Trump administration announced plans that ease protections for sage grouse in the West, prompting an outcry by critics who say the move paves the way for widespread mining and drilling and ignores a federal court ruling. Some ranchers, though, think grazing is part of the solution. The plans by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management ease rules on mining, drilling and grazing across millions of acres that the agency says reflect the needs of Western communities and sagebrush-steppe habitat. A previous Trump administration plan relaxing sage grouse protections was rejected by a federal judge in 2019. “I think this is an example of the Trump administration ignoring the judicial branch and trying to bulldoze and get its way despite the judge already saying that path is illegal.”. The rules may also be subject to further litigation. “If you graze well, it’s really not a conflict at all,” said John O’Keeffe, a land owner representative on Gov. The new rules extend far beyond grazing, though. “I don't think that's going to fly in court,” said Erik Molvar of Western Watersheds Project. In that order, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in Boise temporarily blocked the administration of Presdent Trump from easing rules on mining, drilling and grazing, saying such activities left unchecked were likely to harm sage grouse. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s annual sage grouse census for 2020 recorded the second-lowest population estimate since monitoring began in 1980. “The Biden administration would have to start all over again, develop new plans with notice and comment, and provide a clear justification as to why the plans are yet again being changed,″ said Mary Greene, an attorney with the National Wildlife Federation. “Those need to be fully implemented now in order to prevent further decline of the sage grouse population,” he said. Gunnison sage-grouse look similar to their cousins, the greater sage-grouse, however they are approximately one-third of the size. The latter of those three has historically gained the most attention in Oregon. Be a part of it! The birds are known for an elaborate mating ritual in which males fan their tails and puff out yellow air sacs in their chests as they strut around breeding grounds. A coalition that included ranchers, scientists, environmentalists and policymakers struck a deal in 2015 to avoid Endangered Species Act protections for sage grouse. As the largest grouse in North America, the Sage grouse is also one of the most unique in appearance. There’s evidence to support that grazing public lands helps ranchers and sage grouse. Under former President Barack Obama, the Interior Department delayed lease sales on millions of acres of public land largely because of worries that intensive development could harm sage grouse. Sage grouse have been in decline for decades due to habitat loss and other factors. In 2015, it adopted a set of wide-ranging plans meant to protect the best grouse habitat and keep the bird off the threatened and endangered species list. Males have distinct, white barring on their tail feathers and long, dense filoplumes on their necks that look similar to a ponytail. (Jerret Raffety/The Rawlins Daily Times via AP, File). For now, the announcement could signal another environmental rollback in a long line of rollbacks in this lame duck session. O’Keeffe also pointed to efforts by private ranchers to slow the encroachment of juniper and the creation of rural fire associations to more thoughtfully manage fire.

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