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Eye On Boise

Otter on sage grouse decision: ‘Unfortunately, this is far from over’

Gov. Butch Otter issued this statement on today’s federal announcement that the greater sage grouse won’t be listed for protections under the Endangered Species Act:

“While I appreciate Secretary Jewell’s public recognition of local and state efforts to preserve the species and its habitat, the question behind a ‘not warranted’ determination is: ‘At what cost’? For months now, the federal government’s initially transparent and collaborative process has been replaced by closed-door meetings and internal memoranda. That’s resulted in a land management scheme for sage-grouse habitat that remains a mystery to property owners and state and local wildlife advocates alike. The feds are asking us to trust them. It’s not that simple and unfortunately this is far from over. I remain committed to doing what’s best for the species and the people of Idaho.” 

2nd District GOP Congressman Mike Simpson issued this statement:

“For years, state and federal partners have worked toward the not warranted listing that was issued today, and, given the impact that a listing decision would have on Idaho and the West, I am pleased with the Fish and Wildlife Service’s determination. That being said, I recognize that this decision does not come without a price.  There has been widespread concern about the impact of the federal land management plans, especially from the states, which felt their recommendations in this process were disregarded.  Whether the price we pay for a not-warranted decision will be too high remains to be seen.  In the meantime, I will continue working with both federal and state agencies to see that the real threats to sage-grouse habitat, including wildfire, can be addressed.”

 1st District GOP Congressman Raúl Labrador had this statement:

 “I welcome the Administration’s decision against listing the greater sage grouse. A listing would have immediately wreaked economic havoc across the West. However, the accompanying imposition of new federal management plans undermines much of the good work done at the state level. Governors, private property owners and other stakeholders have spent years crafting plans that protect habitat while allowing the development of natural resources, sustainable use of rangeland and recreational access. Unless an overreaching federal government respects the wisdom of state-level conservation efforts, the sage grouse won’t recover and the new federal restrictions will undermine local economies.”

Here is U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo’s statement:

“While a ‘not warranted’ decision is better than a listing determination under the Endangered Species Act, the Department of Interior’s reliance on heavy-handed land-use management plans to arrive at this decision is unacceptable. The Department ignored much of what the Idaho Sage Grouse Task Force recommended and, instead, opted to move forward with top-down federal lands-use management plans.  While the agency cited collaboration as the basis for its decision, the move to abandon the state’s planning process that adequately addressed true threats to the bird--namely the impact of wildfires and invasive species on sagebrush habitat—will ultimately lead to greater uncertainty for sage grouse populations in the future.”

U.S. Sen. Jim Risch issued this statement:

“While I am pleased Secretary Jewell has acknowledged the greater sage-grouse population is on the rebound, I am concerned the regulations generated by the Department of the Interior to reach this decision will do little to continue the recent population rebound in Idaho.  We had pressed DOI early on to rely on a locally-driven, collaborative process to conserve the sage-grouse, but this process changed when it came to Washington, D.C. The two main threats to the greater sage-grouse in Idaho are fire and invasive species. The Secretary adopts a plan that relies heavily on regulation of the mining, oil, and gas industries when it should focus more heavily on fire control. Today’s announcement serves as political cover for another top-down mandate that will not be the best prescription for sage-grouse in Idaho.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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