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Western Public Lands

Colorado Sportsmen Speak Out For Sage-Grouse Plans

Colorado sportsmen and women want to see sage-grouse conservation plans proceed. Image: NWF

CRAIG, Colo.  – Colorado sportsmen and women and wildlife advocates are urging members of the public to speak out in support of plans designed to conserve greater sage-grouse and sagebrush lands. The Bureau of Land Management scheduled an open house Nov. 8 in Craig, the only public forum planned in Colorado on proposed changes to the sage-grouse plans.

The sagebrush steppe, found in 11 Western states, supports elk, mule deer, pronghorns and many other species as well as sage-grouse, Colorado Wildlife Federation Executive Director Suzanne O’Neill notes.

“Our public lands and wildlife are fundamental to Colorado's lifestyle. The efforts to save the greater sage-grouse will sustain not only the bird but a lot of other wildlife Coloradans care about,” O’Neill says.

“The sage-grouse plans were developed by Westerners from across the political spectrum and are supported by Gov. Hickenlooper. They shouldn’t be overhauled, as the Interior Department is proposing, before they’re even given a chance to work,” she adds.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican, both involved in the planning process, wrote a letter in May to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to express concern about altering the plans. They wrote they were concerned that shifting the focus from habitat conservation and restoration to setting population objectives, as Zinke has suggested “is not the right decision” and that wholesale changes to the plans likely aren’t needed.

“Sportsmen and women, private landowners, ranchers and industry representatives joined elected officials and federal agencies to come up with state and federal plans so sage-grouse wouldn’t need to be listed, so we could head off precipitous declines for mule deer and big game winter range would be protected,” says Aaron Kindle, senior manager of Western sporting campaigns for the National Wildlife Federation.

“Throwing open the plans at this point defies logic and common sense. It’s also a slap in the face to all the Westerners who contributed to this effort. It’s essentially saying, ‘We don’t care what you think and we don’t value your time’. That’s not good public policy and it discourages working toward collaborative solutions,” Kindle says.

The BLM open house in Craig is set for 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Clarion Inn, 300 S. Highway 13. Other open houses on amending the sage-grouse plans are being held in Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

The public comment period on amending the sage-grouse plans closes Nov. 27. Comments can be submitted to blm_sagegrouseplanning@blm.gov. For more information, go to http://bit.ly/2yg6ssI

Visit the National Wildlife Federation Media Center at NWF.org/News.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017