Press Room

Give the West a Break—Let Sage-Grouse Conservation Plans Work

By issuing a secretarial order to reverse course on grouse conservation plans, Secretary Zinke would put an entire landscape at risk.

DENVER—“If you wanted to sow chaos and uncertainty across millions of acres of the West, you’d start by blowing up the existing sage-grouse conservation plans,” said Brian Rutledge, Audubon VP and Central Flyway conservation policy adviser, amid reports of an upcoming secretarial order from Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke that would revisit the plans.

“These plans were designed after years of painstaking cooperation between Western states, federal agencies, industry, private landowners and other stakeholders, and they offer the best chance of survival for not only the Greater Sage-Grouse but more than 350 other species and countless communities in the region. Any process that starts from scratch endangers one of America’s most impressive and most important collaborative conservation victories in its history."

In September 2015, then-Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the Greater Sage-Grouse did not warrant federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. Rapid and effective implementation of the sage-grouse conservation plans, which incorporate grouse protection measures on nearly 70 million acres of Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service land, were key factors in the “not warranted” decision. The conservation plans are already under attack in the latest federal budget proposal from the White House, which slashes funding for their implementation by $11.5 million.

The Greater Sage-Grouse is an umbrella species of the sagebrush ecosystem, which means efforts to protect it also result in protection for more than 350 other species of wildlife, including these other bird species.

To learn more about Audubon’s years-long effort to protect the Greater Sage-Grouse and the sagebrush ecosystem it needs, please visit www.audubon.org/sage-grouse.

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at www.audubon.org  and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.

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Contact: Nicolas Gonzalez, ngonzalez@audubon.org, (212) 979-3068.

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