Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a departmental review of how the greater sage grouse is protected.
The sage grouse lives in 11 western states, and its habitat spans more than 40 million acres. The bird’s population has declined significantly in recent decades, as natural resource development expanded in some states.
In 2015, the Obama administration decided not to put the bird on the Endangered Species List, in exchange for a habitat-wide approach to preserving the animal. That plan restricts oil, gas and mining development in sage grouse country.
But Secretary Zinke says he wants more state involvement in the process.
During a visit to Idaho last week, the Trump administration official told reporters that he has heard from some western governors – including Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter – that they felt left out of the 2015 process.
“As a Secretary of Interior," says Zinke, "I think it’s important to have collaborative efforts. There’s different states that have different opinions. So part of my job is to get with those states and work with those state plans.”
Zinke signed an order for a 60-day review of the current federal plan. He says he wants to be sure to protect the bird and keep it off the Endangered Species List, while also repairing trust among ranchers and other land users in the West.
Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
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