On May 19, 2015, PLPCO Director Kathleen Clarke testified to the House Committee on Natural Resources that “the relentless efforts to force more standardized and irrelevant mandates on the use of the land not only threatens the conservation of the species, but unnecessarily imposes hardship on the hard-working citizens of the West”. Ms. Clarke testified along with Dustin Miller, Administrator, Idaho Office of Species Conservation; John Swartout, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado; and Ed Arnett, Senior Scientist, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. All of their expert testimonies were offered as part of an oversight hearing titled: “Empowering State Management of Greater Sage Grouse”. Western states have been frustrated with federal efforts that exclude the states and local governments. “Instead of helping cut through the red tape, federal agencies are focusing most of their effort on finding new ways to regulate human activity,” said Director Clarke.
While Mr. Arnett favored both state and federal plans to manage sage grouse, other experts advocated for state and local control. Mr. Miller said, “[t]he State of Idaho holds to the notion that local collaboration, local ideas, and local efforts garner the greatest results.” Ms. Clarke agreed by saying “[t]he state of Utah is committed to the long-term conservation of greater sage-grouse. Over $50 million has been invested over the last 10 years on sage-grouse conservation in Utah.”
Representative Lummis of Wyoming seemed to agree with the experts by stating: “[t]he Administration has spurned this committee’s efforts to improve the law, all while defending a deeply flawed system. Simply trusting that the Administration will fix these problems on its own seems like allowing the fox to guard the hen house.” Representative Bishop from Utah also agreed that states need more influence and authority in managing their resources. “States are using resources wisely to recover species and keep them off the list. We should do more to encourage them” according to Bishop.
To listen to the archived hearing webcast, click here.