Livestock producers say review ‘opens the door to relief’
October 5, 2017
Livestock Producers on New Sage Grouse Review: 'Opens Door to Relief'
WASHINGTON (Oct. 5, 2017) – The Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association today reacted to the Department of the Interior announcement that it will open a public comment period and assess options for amending the flawed 2015 plan amendments for conservation of the greater sage grouse in 11 western states. The groups said that the action opens a door to potentially provide much needed relief to ranchers across the west.
The notice of intent comes on the heels of Interior's review of the sage grouse plans earlier this year. During the process, the sage grouse review team consulted with various stakeholders including the Public Lands Council to examine the best method of protecting sage grouse populations and identified areas where the 2015 plan amendments fell short.
Dave Eliason, Utah Rancher and President of the Public Lands Council, said the ranching community has voluntarily implemented many conservation practices for the Greater Sage Grouse and is anxious to continue dialogue with Interior on this issue.
"Ranchers have spent decades working to sustain and enhance habitat that is optimal for sage grouse by responsibly grazing public lands," Eliason said. "Grazing and habitat conservation are two concepts that are not mutually exclusive, and this partnership is a solution benefiting all."
Ethan Lane, Executive Director of the Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association Federal Lands, said the 2015 sage grouse plan amendments were not easily applied to every impacted stakeholder and were a concern to the ranching community.
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"We know the ranching community, specifically public lands ranchers, have unique challenges and opportunities. The one-size-fits-all approach restricted our ability to play our part in this conservation effort," Lane said. "I want to thank the Interior Department for their willingness to work with states and ranchers to get these plans right."
Cattle and sheep help manage fuel loads on public land, reducing the risk of wildfire, a major threat to sage grouse habitats. The plan amendments in 2015 created inflexibility for land managers that unintentionally prevented ranchers from properly managing rangeland inhabited by sage grouse.
The public may submit comments to the proposed changes through a 45-day comment period which will end in November.