NRCS: Funding available to keep sage-grouse off endangered species list |

NRCS: Funding available to keep sage-grouse off endangered species list

DENVER – The Federal Lands Policy Committee of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) met Feb. 4, 2011, at the 2011 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show to discuss issues affecting cattle ranchers on federal lands. The meeting included updates on legislation and regulations; discussions on issues ranging from wild horses to special land designations; presentations on ongoing litigation in the West; and more.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White announced the availability of an additional $23 million to conserve critical sage-grouse habitat in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming in order to prevent its listing under the Endangered Species Act.

“Last year, NRCS began working to keep the greater sage-grouse off the endangered species list,” White said. “Today, I am proud to announce we are taking new steps to protect agricultural lands that sage-grouse depend upon to ensure this species has the habitat it needs without jeopardizing your ability to responsibly graze cattle on the land. Through a partnership with farmers and ranchers like all of you, we are working to keep sagebrush grazing land in production and preserve and improve wildlife habitat.”

U.S. Forest Service Deputy Chief Joel Holtrop also provided an update during the meeting. He emphasized the importance of ranchers’ involvement in the forest planning rulemaking. He also recognized that budget restrictions will present difficulties in coming years as the agency works to complete the mandatory environmental analyses required in order to renew grazing permits.

“Tough times are ahead, but we recognize that public lands ranching is an important aspect of American agriculture and that a strong agriculture industry is crucial to a stable global economy,” Holtrop said.

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