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The following was written and submitted by Dustin Bleizeffer, Communications Director, Wyoming Outdoor Council.
Today the U.S. Bureau of Land Management finalized plans to rollback protections intended to help avoid a listing of the Greater sage-grouse, prioritizing energy over wildlife conservation in vital sagebrush habitat that some 350 other wildlife species depend on for survival in the West.
“The BLM’s actions today undermine the strong vision that westerners developed together based on good science — and on which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based its 2015 decision not to list the Greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act,” Wyoming Outdoor Council Executive Director Lisa McGee said.
“If the sage-grouse is in trouble, so is our way of life in Wyoming,” McGee continued. “Our shared love of the outdoors, public lands, and the wildlife they support is something we all agree is worth protecting. That’s why we’ve taken action at every opportunity in this process to ask that the federal government honor the deal it made with Wyoming and other western states. The 2015 plans still have overwhelming public support in Wyoming, because we know that a robust energy industry doesn’t have to come at the cost of imperiling our wildlife.
“The Outdoor Council, our members, and our partners, will continue to defend the state’s Executive Order and seek ways to strengthen it.”
Tom Christiansen, former sage-grouse coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said the federal administration has clearly prioritized energy development over conservation of wildlife resources on public lands. This month, the BLM sold oil and gas leases inside the “Golden Triangle” in Wyoming, home to the world’s highest concentration of Greater sage-grouse.
“The recent oil and gas lease sales in the best, most intact sage-grouse habitat on earth, demonstrate the need for a better plan,” Christiansen said. “The administration has also indicated they will follow the lead of the individual states relative to sage-grouse conservation. The onus is now on Gov. Mark Gordon, and those participating in the current process to update Wyoming’s Sage-Grouse Core Area Executive Order, to strengthen the policy in order to re-center the balance between sage-grouse conservation and energy development.”