U.S. sage grouse policy heading back to square one

Sunday, 12 November 2017, 02:48:06 AM. Federal scientists and land managers who’ve been crafting strategies to protect a ground-dwelling bird’s habitat across the American West for nearly two decades are going back to the dr…
SPARKS, Nev. — Federal scientists and land managers who’ve been crafting strategies to protect a ground-dwelling bird’s habitat across the American West for nearly two decades are going back to the drawing board under a new Trump administration edict to reassess existing plans condemned by ranchers, miners and energy developers. Federal officials are wrapping up a series of public meetings with three sessions starting Tuesday in Utah ahead of a Nov. 27 cutoff for comment on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s order last month to consider revisions to land management amendments for the greater sage grouse that were adopted under the Obama administration. Zinke says he wants to make sure the amendments don’t harm local economies in 11 western states and allow the states to have maximum control over the efforts within their borders. Conservationists say it’s a thinly veiled attempt to allow more livestock grazing and drilling, similar to Trump’s efforts to roll back national monument designations, but on a much larger scale. They warn it could land the hen-sized bird on the endangered species list in 2020 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is scheduled to review its 2015 decision not to list it. “They appear to be dismantling the whole land-planning amendment system and starting over,” said Patrick Donnelly, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Nevada state director. “It’s revisionist history,” he told a Fish and Wildlife Service official during a scoping...Read more
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