PLPCO Director Testifies Before House Committee on Natural Resources

Clarke testimony

PLPCO Director Kathleen Clarke testifying before the House Committee on Natural Resources Photo Credit: Utah Governor’s Office

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.

WGA Releases 2014 Sage-Grouse Inventory

April 1, 2015

Cover Image of 2014 WGA Sage Grouse InventoryToday the Western Governor’s Association (WGA) released its 2014 Sage-Grouse Inventory, highlighting cooperative conservation work across 11 states. The WGA is committed to conserving the bird and asserts that its conservation efforts will provide the necessary habitat for the sage-grouse to thrive. Some of the highlights of the report include:

  • Utah’s completion of nearly 85% of a 560,000-acre project to ameliorate conifer encroachment in sage-grouse management areas
  • Colorado, Nevada, North Dakota, and South Dakota completed or updated state plans for sage-grouse conservation
  • Idaho, Montana, and Colorado have protected 350,000 acres of habitat through purchase or conservation easements

For more on the release of the 2014 Sage-Grouse Inventory, click here.

Governor Signs Executive Order Protecting Sage-grouse

EO Sage Grouse signing

Salt Lake City | February 10, 2015

On February 10, 2015, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed an Executive Order to protect the greater sage-grouse. The Order ensures state agencies will conform with the Conservation Plan and make management and policy decisions that “maintain, improve and enhance Greater Sage-Grouse habitat.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is determining whether to list the bird under the Endangered Species Act.

The Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office (PLPCO) is responsible for coordinating with State agencies, whose operations affect the Greater Sage-grouse, to implement Utah’s Conservation Plan. PLPCO, alongside the Division of Wildlife Resources, will reevaluate the Conservation Plan as new science, information, and data emerge regarding the sage-grouse, their habitat and behaviors. The Executive Order also requires State agencies to report to PLPCO “detailing their actions to comply” with the Order.

Read the Full Story here.

 

 

Utah Demands Removal of Wild Horses from SITLA Lands

February 4, 2015

Brain Maffly | Salt Lake Tribune

“The state of Utah is asking a federal judge to force the Bureau of Land Management to remove wild horses from state-trust lands, particularly from a big tract in Iron and Beaver counties.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Salt Lake City’s U.S. District Court, the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration alleges years of failed management has led to population explosions of the protected animals, even though BLM wranglers scoured the Blawn Wash area last summer, removing every horse they encountered.”

“Meanwhile, state lawmakers emphasized their unhappiness with the situation, introducing a resolution before the Utah Senate that echoes the allegations in the SITLA suit.”

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