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Greater Sage Grouse Thrive in the West – States Lead Effective Conservation, Management Effort

Written by Matthew H. Mead

By Matthew H. Mead, Wyoming Governor and Western Governors’ Association Chairman

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced on Sept. 22 that the Greater sage grouse does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. This decision is good for the bird, other species, western states and our nation.

Over the last decade, Wyoming has developed plans to conserve the Greater sage grouse and its habitat, and western states have followed suit. Each state has developed a plan to protect the bird and its habitat – plans that consider the economy, customs and cultures unique to that state. States have secured necessary resources to implement plans and to succeed in this effort. Countless partners including energy and mineral developers, agricultural producers, sportsmen, conservation groups and local, state and federal agencies played a significant part in the success of this work.

Wyoming has the greatest population of Greater sage grouse in the western United States, with approximately 40 percent of the birds. Wyoming has dedicated great time, energy and resources to this conservation effort. I signed an executive order in July – the fourth order put in place in Wyoming – setting out the stipulations to protect the bird within the Greater sage grouse core areas. Core areas represent high priority lands important for conservation of the Greater sage grouse in Wyoming. They are home to more than 80 percent of Wyoming’s Greater sage grouse population. The Core Area Protection strategy is the standard used by other states as they adopted their strategies.

Wyoming’s Greater sage grouse efforts work. They work for Greater sage grouse. They work for coal, oil, natural gas and wind generation industries. They work for private landowners and agricultural producers. They work for sportsmen and women. They work for conservationists. In Wyoming, diverse interests have come together and worked for a solution that considers the many interests and benefits more than 150 other species that inhabit the healthy sagebrush ecosystem.

This work by Wyoming and western states shows how effective state leadership is in this and so many areas. We recognize that success is a species that does not warrant a listing. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service have been partners and have worked with us to develop resource management plans that incorporate Wyoming’s strategy. The Greater sage grouse has a bright outlook in Wyoming and in the West. It is measured in results not in listings.

 

My thanks to Governor Freudenthal, the Wyoming Sage Grouse Implementation Team and so many Wyoming citizens for getting Wyoming on the right track.