Ryan Zinke announces new sage grouse plan | TSLN.com

Ryan Zinke announces new sage grouse plan

The sage grouse is currently being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act, and Montana is the last of 11 western states to produce a plan to argue management of sage grouse should stay in state hands. Photo by Rick McEwan.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Monday announced a new plan to try to manage the sage grouse population in 11 Western states, altering many of the policies established by the Obama administration.

The changes came in the form of a report from a sage grouse task force that Zinke had established. Environmental and animal protection groups denounced the Trump administration as weakening the attempt to increase the sage grouse population and a gift to the oil and gas industry.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said the report "underscores the importance of working with states to manage sage grouse populations. State and local governments know and value their natural resources and have tailored management plans. North Dakota's state management plan effectively balances conservation, ranching, energy and other development needs. Working with the state, Interior can successfully conserve historic habitat and wildlife, while also encouraging economic growth and job creation in western states."

The Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association took a cautious approach to the release of the report.

"During an initial review of the report, I was encouraged by several key priorities including the compatibility of proper grazing management and conservation," said PLC President Dave Eliason.

"The report acknowledges the need for a more collaborative approach between grazing permittees and federal leadership, as well as a reexamination of the Habitat Objectives Table and its application — both key elements to successful conservation efforts for the greater sage grouse," Eliason said.

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"The report also reinforced the need to pursue outcome-based grazing demonstration projects and targeted grazing pilot projects, two critical tools for responsive management of ecosystems and fuel loads. The Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen's Beef Association stand ready to collaborate with the Department of the Interior moving forward."

–The Hagstrom Report

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