Sage Grouse

sagebrush, sage grouse
Bureau of Land Management

Federal officials have approved a project that aims to help the iconic sage grouse in southwest Idaho. The threat? An encroaching evergreen that has infiltrated much of the region's sage brush steppe.

 

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

Currently the sage grouse is not listed under the Endangered Species Act. And a bill before Congress  would prevent that from happening anytime in the next decade.

Bureau of Land Management

Last June, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke opened federal sage grouse management plans approved in 2015 to state scrutiny.

In a flurry of lawsuits stretching across the West, conservation groups are accusing the federal government of failing to protect a rare bird: the sage grouse. This week, the groups involved in one of those lawsuits came to a legal truce.

Bureau of Land Management

The federal government has signed off on the final routes on public land for a 990-mile-long power line across Idaho and Wyoming.

Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation / BLM

One of Idaho’s top political leaders urged the federal government Wednesday to roll back a conservation plan for one of the West’s most iconic animals.


Jimmy Emerson / Flickr Creative Commons

Courtney Conway had a big ask for a handful of Idaho ranchers in sage grouse country.

 


Butch Otter
Idaho Statesman

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says the state has to be vigilant monitoring the federal government's creation of a new sage grouse conservation plan because of federal employees who worked on the previous plan that caused Otter to file a lawsuit.

Otter told state workers at an Idaho Land Board meeting Tuesday that they can't allow federal workers he called "leftovers" from President Barack Obama's administration to create a plan similar to the 2015 version Otter says is too restrictive.

Keith Ridler / AP Images

Obama’s Interior Department decided not to put the greater sage grouse on the Endangered Species List. In exchange, officials created a plan which restricted ranching, mining and other resource extraction – but not as drastically as a listing decision would have.

LM Otero / AP Images

The struggle to save the embattled greater sage grouse — while keeping the ground-dwelling bird off the Endangered Species List — has been going on for decades. Its population has plummeted from millions of birds to less than 500,000 in recent years.

Key to the fight is identifying and attacking what’s killing the bird, a challenge complicated by the fact that the threats vary depending on the state.

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

The Trump Administration plans to change how an iconic western species is managed. The new approach comes after Republican governors lobbied for a review of a plan to protect the greater sage grouse.


Cathleen Allison / AP Photo

Congressional Republicans are moving forward with legislation to roll back the Endangered Species Act, amid complaints that the landmark 44-year-old law hinders drilling, logging and other activities.

At simultaneous hearings Wednesday, House and Senate committees considered bills to revise the law and limit lengthy and costly litigation associated with it.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

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.

Cathleen Allison / AP Photo

A new study of sage grouse in Eastern Washington found a surprisingly large benefit from a federal program that subsidizes farmers to plant year-round grasses and native shrubs instead of crops.

The study concluded that is probably the reason that sage grouse still live in portions of Washington's Columbia River Basin.

"Without these lands, our models predict that we would lose about two thirds of the species' habitat, and that the sage grouse would go extinct in two of three sub-populations," said Andrew Shirk of the University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group.

sage grouse, in flight, birds
Bryant Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Gov. "C.L" Butch Otter says he plans to appeal the dismissal of a lawsuit brought against the Interior Department in 2015. The dismissed lawsuit alleges the department violated federal environmental rules when it withdrew almost four million acres of land in Idaho for conservation of the greater sage grouse.

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