Lawsuit Filed to Secure Endangered Status for Gunnison Sage Grouse

January 21, 2015

Sage Grouse
Last November, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed the Gunnison sage-grouse as “threatened”. On January 20, 2015, Western Watersheds Project and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the USFWS arguing for endangered status for the species and protections that come with it. These groups argue that the best available scientific evidence demonstrates that the Gunnison sage-grouse is “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range” and must be listed as endangered species.

The complaint points out that the USFWS violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) by failing to consider best available science and give public a notice and opportunity to comment on its decision to list the species as threatened. The groups are asking the court to remand the final rule (listing the bird as threatened) to USFWS for “an adequate finding that complies with all requirements of the ESA and the APA” in the meantime retaining the threatened listing in place.

Gunnison sage-grouse population is about 5,000 found only in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. The species are related to the Greater sage-grouse that is at the center of a broader debate that involves 11 western states.

View the entire complaint here

Utah Wildlife Officials, Bishop Bemoan Federal Action on Gunnison Sage Grouse | Deseret News

November 12, 2014

“A decision Wednesday to list the Gunnison sage grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act will ultimately hurt the bird more than it will help it, undercutting local efforts to protect the species and instilling tedious layers of government bureaucracy to overcome.

That sentiment, voiced by Utah wildlife officials and echoed by members of the state’s congressional delegation, came in swift reaction to the announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the bird is receiving a designation as “threatened” under the federal act.”

Read full story | Deseret News

Special Report to Western Governors: Inventory of Sage Grouse Conservation Initiatives

Inventory of State and Local Governments’ Conservation Initiatives for Sage-Grouse

Special Report to Western Governors, Western Governors’ Association

2013 Update, February 20, 2014

WGA 2013 Sage Grouse Inventory Feb 20_Cover

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.

Download full report | Western Governors’ Association

Download Appendix to report | Western Governors’ Association

2014 Utah’s Sage-Grouse Summit

SummitInfo

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

(5) Mitigation

(6) Management With or Without Listing: Process and What to Expect

For complete agenda and sessions’ recordings visit utahcbcp.org