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

Governors, Counties Asking for Full Support of PILT Program

The Western Governors’ Association and the National Association of Counties sent a joint letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees requesting full support of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.

PILT has been compensating counties with large tracts of nontaxable federal lands for many years. The two-year budget deal the Congress passed this week authorized PILT extension but left it up to the appropriators to decide whether the program continues.

The letter emphasized the economic hardship to the states and counties in the absence of PILT funds urging the federal government to honor its historic PILT agreement.

“Counties with federal land in their jurisdictions often provide vital services on those lands, such as solid waste management, search and rescue, and emergency medical services. The federal government must honor its historic PILT agreement with states and counties to compensate them for tax-exempt federal lands within their borders. . . . We urge you to consider the economic hardship that states and counties across the nation will face if the PILT program is not given consistent funding.”

~ December 20, 2013 Western Governors’ Association PILT Letter

 

Read full text of the letter or visit https://www.westgov.org.