WESTERN SLOPE Reps push local sage grouse control
By Bill Tiedje
A bill introduced by Republican U.S. Reps. Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner would prevent the Endangered Species Act listing of sage grouse species for 10 years but would require states to follow conservation management plans for the species.
“Biologists and other experts have stated time and again that the most effective species preservation efforts are locally-tailored and take into consideration the unique ecology and topography of the region in which the habitat occurs. If the goal is truly to protect the sage grouse, a one-size-fits-all listing out of Washington is not only less effective than locally-tailored plans but jeopardizes the ongoing work being done in states to preserve and recover the species,” said Tipton. “State and local species preservation efforts already underway should be given the chance to continue to work to increase the grouse population without interference from Washington.”
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) also supported introduction of the bill on May 22.
In 2011, a similar U.S. House bill that would have given states management authority of the then-endangered gray wolf died in committee; however, the species was officially delisted in June 2013.
"Each one of the species is unique," said Josh Green, Tipton's press secretary. "We've seen tremendous local and state efforts (on sage grouse conservation). This legislation reflects all of that work."
Green explained the bill was created with the belief that what works in some states such as Idaho or Utah may not be right for the other nine states where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed critical habitat.
This local approach includes not designating areas where habitat doesn't exist, Green explained.
Ouray County Commissioner Lynn Padgett has repeatedly questioned the USFWS' science and maps on this topic, contending that habitat conditions in areas of proposed habitat in Ouray County are not correct.