PINEDALE, Wyo. — “Two years ago, stakeholders from all across the West announced plans to protect and restore the uniquely American sagebrush ecosystem and its most iconic resident, the Greater Sage-Grouse,” said Brian Rutledge, director of Audubon’s Sagebrush Ecosystem Initiative, as the public comment period comes to an end on Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke's possible changes to land-use plans.
“After years of careful compromise and collaboration, these landscape-wide conservation plans represented hope for Western communities, the sage-grouse and more than 350 other species that depend on the sagebrush steppe.
“Right now, however, Washington is doing its best to undermine the biggest victory in American conservation we’ve ever seen. Thankfully, thousands of Westerners are stepping up to reject Secretary Ryan Zinke’s top-down approach.”
In 2015, Western states, federal agencies, energy executives, ranchers, sportsmen, scientists and other stakeholders came together to celebrate that collective commitments to sage-grouse conservation were so strong that there was no need for Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections. By working together, they had designed a path forward that provided enough flexibility for all stakeholders to pursue their livelihoods and traditions while also securing enough firm conservation commitments to protect the Greater Sage-Grouse. The sage-grouse is an indicator species for the health of the sagebrush it and more than 350 other species of wildlife depend on.
Western states’ fish and game experts agree that sage-grouse habitat protection is the best way forward. Scientists fear a focus on bird numbers alone and discredited methods to meet them like captive breeding would be doomed to fail, putting the sage-grouse at risk of further decline.
Audubon has engaged its 38 chapters in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming to oppose weakening conservation plans for the Greater Sage-Grouse. More than 20 thousand Audubon members have voiced their support for keeping the 2015 sage-grouse plans intact.
To learn more about the unprecedented efforts to protect the Greater Sage-Grouse and the places it calls home, 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 at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.
Contact: Nicolas Gonzalez, firstname.lastname@example.org, (212) 979-3100.