TWS signs letter in response to DOI reopening sage-grouse plans

By Kaitlyn Miller

©Tom Koerner/USFWS

On Nov. 30, The Wildlife Society and 23 other organizations sent a letter to Ryan Zinke,  Secretary of the Interior, in response to the Bureau of Land Management notice announcing its intent to amend the 2015 land use plans put in place to conserve the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) and their habitat. The land use plans under review form the backbone of the federal sage-grouse conservation plan, which were used as the basis for the Sep. 2015 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determination that the sage-grouse did not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Forest Service has also published a notice that it intends to revisit and possibly amend their land use plans relating to the greater sage-grouse.

The letter expresses support for the conservation efforts outlined in the federal land use plans, though it acknowledges some targeted amendments could be considered to strengthen the plans. The letter suggests that the Department focus on using all administrative, training, and guidance and clarification approaches to address any remaining challenges with implementing the federal plans. The letter supports an adaptive management approach and emphasizes the dependent nature of a wildlife population and its habitat. Ultimately the letter emphasizes the need to maintain the federal conservation plans and base any changes on sound science.

Kaitlyn Miller is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Wildlife Policy and Programs team. Read more of Kaitlyn's articles here.