Greater Sage-grouse Strut, Sublette County, Wyoming
By now, nearly every one if us has heard something about Greater Sage-grouse and the pending listing decision for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The listing decision is scheduled for September 30 and while we’ve been waiting to find out what the US Fish and Wildlife Service will do, some in Congress have been seeking ways to undermine the process. Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado has added a rider to the Senate Appropriations Bill that would essentially stall any meaningful conservation actions on behalf of Greater Sage-grouse for six years. If that were to happen, we would lose all of the progress, the goodwill, the great collaboration that’s been steadily increasing in the buildup to a listing decision. The Endangered Species Act is under attack, that’s been going on for years. The Sage-grouse decision is bigger than anything we’ve seen before, with eleven states and 165 million acres of Sage-grouse habitat staked out as Priority Areas For Conservation (PAC). If you’ve read this blog before, or followed the Sage Spirit project, you know that grouse are imperiled because of habitat fragmentation, loss, and the collapse of an ecosystem that impacts 350 species. Failure to take serious actions on behalf of Greater Sage-grouse is an ecosystem failure. There is only one sagebrush sea. What can we do? Write a letter, a real letter to your senators and tell them that Greater Sage-grouse are in trouble and don’t belong in an appropriations bill. Let science determine the next steps. Make sure to tell your senator what the American West means to you – the personal aspect is so important. Audubon has made it easy for you with a letter that you can e-sign, but it’s even better if you use some of the language and add your personal connection. I’ve sent letters to Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet (CO) and it feels great. Thanks for writing, the Audubon letter follows:
Protect The Greater Sage Grouse
When Americans are coming together to find common-sense, science-based solutions to protect Greater Sage-Grouse, I was disheartened to learn that language has been added to the Interior Appropriations bill that undermines protections for the Greater Sage-Grouse.
Recently, an unprecedented, coordinated effort among the states and federal government led to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) recently-released final Resource Management Plans. The goal of these plans is to strike the right balance in protecting this iconic species, achieving landscape-scale conservation, and sustaining the vibrant economies of the West that depend on this vast ecosystem.
A bipartisan poll commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts found that well over three-fourths of voters in the American West say it is important to protect sage-grouse habitat, and an overwhelming majority support stronger Bureau of Land Management plans to protect the bird and its habitat.
Now is not the time to undermine these collaborative efforts. Protections for sage-grouse would benefit more than 350 species that also depend on the same ecosystem, many of which are also imperiled, such as Sage Thrashers and Burrowing Owls.
Please oppose anti-sage-grouse language in the Interior Appropriations bill and allow the collaborative effort to save this species and the American west to go forward.
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