July 7, 2014 – The State submitted comments on proposed listing and proposed designation of critical habitat for Graham’s Beardtongue and White River Beardtongue after reviewing draft economic analysis prepared by Fish and Wildlife Service. Read full text of the State Comment Letter.
By Brian Maffly
May 6, 2014
“The long-awaited decision on whether to protect two rare desert flowers could hinge on a proposed deal federal authorities have reached with state and Uintah County officials.
Occurring only in the Uinta Basin, the Graham’s and White River beardtongue species of penstemon grow on oil shale outcroppings, so some fear a listing under the Endangered Species Act could stymie Utah’s nascent oil shale industry.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on Monday released a draft conservation agreement, which identifies federal and state lands where surface-disturbing activities would be severely limited. The idea is to preserve core areas and demonstrate that beardtongue does not warrant listing, according to John Harja of the state Public Lands Policy Coordination Office.
The areas “will be refuges for the plants,” he said. “We did this for the purpose of addressing the threats.””
Inventory of State and Local Governments’ Conservation Initiatives for Sage-Grouse
Special Report to Western Governors, Western Governors’ Association
2013 Update, February 20, 2014
About This Inventory
The greater sage-grouse needs large expanses of land for the stages of its lifecycle. Sagebrush, key habitat for the species, is found throughout 11 of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) member states. But today, evidence shows greater sage-grouse now occupy just 56% of their historic range.
In 2010 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listed the greater sage-grouse as “warranted but precluded” under the Endangered Species Act, meaning that the species deserves federal protections but that FWS does not have the resources to support those measures.
Western Governors and former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar formed the State-Federal Sage-Grouse Task Force (SGTF) in 2012 to implement high priority conservation actions and integrate ongoing efforts necessary to preclude the need for fully listing the sage-grouse. If fully listed, the economic impacts to states with sage-grouse habitat could be significant.
Since then Western states, through the WGA and Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA), have worked collaboratively to address challenges facing sage-grouse and their habitat. With the passage of WGA Policy Resolution 11-09 (Sage-Grouse and Sagebrush Conservation), Western Governors demonstrated support for all reasonable management efforts necessary to avoid a threatened or endangered listing of the species.
At the Governors’ request – and as a resource for FWS and the public – WGA and WAFWA created the first annual inventory in 2011 to illustrate how states and counties were taking proactive, voluntary steps to preclude the need to put the greater sage-grouse and Gunnison sage-grouse on the federal endangered species list.
Since that initial report, a second WGA inventory of sage-grouse conservation initiatives was released for 2012. This third WGA report highlights new sage-grouse conservation activities in 2013, along with an appendix that contains all initiatives reported by the relevant states and counties between 2011 and 2013.
The 2014 Utah Sage-grouse Summit took place on February 18-19 at the Utah Department of Natural Resources. Governor Herbert made the opening remarks followed by several presentations and discussion sessions. Kathleen Clarke, Director of the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordination Office, made the closing remarks. The following topics were discussed:
February 18, 2014
(1) USFWS Conservation Reporting Standards
(2) Utah State Plan – Tracking and Reporting
(3) How Utah’s Plan integrates into BLM & USFS Plans: the Public Process and a Time Table for Implementation
(4) Utah Plan: Habitat Management Strategies
(5) Utah Plan: Tracking and Reporting Population Responses to Management: the Science Behind the SGMAs
(6) Utah Plan: What is “Protecting the Best of the Best?”
February 19, 2014
(1) Utah Plan: Mitigation and Disturbance – 5% or 3% Disturbance Limit
(2) Role of LWGs in Utah Plan Implementation
(3) Community-Based Species Conservation Strategies
(4) Research Application to Management: Designing and Monitoring Projects that Work for Sage-Grouse
(6) Management With or Without Listing: Process and What to Expect