Sage Grouse: A Cash Cow for Federal Agencies


Op-ed by Ralph A. Sacrison

Agency habitat management policies for Greater Sage Grouse require astonishing and unnecessary regulatory costs across the 11 states. A widely accepted review by Baier & Segal indicates the BLM’s preferred alternatives will cost 5,600 private sector jobs and $307 million in annual earnings. The most restrictive will cost 31,000 jobs and $1.6 billion in annual earnings.

The annual decrease in economic output varies between $839 million and $5.6 billion. The state and local revenue loss will range from nearly $49 million to more than $262 million annually. The impact on metals and non-fuel minerals is not considered in that summary.

Also, agencies do not forecast the expected impact from reducing exploration and development, including petroleum and coal as well as metal and nonmetal mining.

In the 2010 findings, the USFWS maintained that the sage grouse population declines at 2.5 percent per year. Using their range-wide basis of 535,000 birds, population mortality indicates that approximately 1.5 million eggs or nestlings are taken each year by predators. The greatest threat to the bird is predation, and predator control the most effective protection.

Essentially, ravens maintain agency-approved population pressure on the sage grouse. Agencies then blame sage grouse population threats on human-caused habitat degradation. The truth being agricultural development has created healthy environments for the sage grouse, and impacts from other producers range from minimal to conjecture.

The USDI budget indicates the sage grouse has become four percent of the total BLM budget. Not bad for an agency refusing to employ predator control in immediately and effectively protecting the bird. The evident reason for not comprehensively presenting to Congress and the people the cost of agency-preferred practices is the agency-serving ends of those practices, by which over a million sage grouse die each year.


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Ralph A. Sacrison is a member of the Elko County Natural Resource Management Advisory Commission.



Source:  Elko Daily Free Press



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