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


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

Gov. Gary Herbert: Threat of Sage Grouse Endangered Species Listing is Real, Could Cost Utah Billions | Deseret News

By Amy Joi O’Donoghue

February 18, 2014

“Utah Gov. Gary Herbert kicked off a two-day sage grouse summit Tuesday, bringing together hundreds of people throughout the state who have been working nearly two decades to restore the imperiled bird’s habitat.”

Read full story | Deseret News

Public Lands Highlights from Governor’s “State of the State”

January 29, 2014 – Governor Herbert delivered the State of the State address celebrating Utah’s successes, outlining challenges, and explaining his plan for solutions. Public lands’ issues were frequently a part of the equation.

Among them, Utah’s unique challenge to adequately fund education for our growing student population. The Governor mentioned that nearly 70% of Utah’s land is controlled by the federal government, generating no property taxes to help pay for the growth.

Quoting James Madison, he emphasized that Utah needs to assert its rightful role as a sovereign state.


“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite.”


The Governor sees management of public lands as an area where Utah has to find its own solutions to its issues without being hindered by federal overreach. He defined state sovereignty as representation of the will of the people “while respecting the democratic and judicial processes.”


More effective management of our public lands is also critical to our state. At no time was this more evident than during the federal government shutdown. Our national parks were closed, tourists were turned away and the livelihoods of Utah business owners were put in peril. Yet we were told by many in Washington there was nothing we could do to solve this problem.


We do a lot of things well in Utah, but “doing nothing” is not one of them. I was determined to open the parks, and I told Interior Secretary Sally Jewel we simply had to find a way–and that’s exactly what we did. It took a little common sense and a lot of hard work. It took people of good will, including Representative Brad Dee, and legislators on both sides of the aisle working together to find the solution.


The Governor stressed his efforts in putting Utah in the best position to optimize its use of public lands, including signing H.B. 148 and working with Congressman Rob Bishop on his Public Lands Initiative. These initiative presents the state with “a unique opportunity to resolve” the issue of public lands transfer “by identifying public lands for multiple-use such as energy development, farming and ranching, and protecting” the state’s “iconic vistas and venues.”

Read the full text of the speech.