Sage grouse discussed by Western governors


LAS VEGAS – Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says the federal government is trying to find a way to save the sage grouse without having to list the bird as an endangered species.

Jewell, at the Western Governors’ Association’s winter meeting in Las Vegas, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working with environmentalists and officials in 11 Western states to find a solution to protect the species and its habitat without a formal listing.

Governors scheduled to attend the conference were Democrats Steve Bullock of Montana and John Hickenlooper of Colorado, and Republicans Butch Otter of Idaho, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, Gary Herbert of Utah and Matt Mead of Wyoming.

“We want to create an environment where a listing is not warranted,” she said. “So we’re all working with that common objective. … It truly is epic collaboration. It’s not just the sage grouse that’s at stake. It’s the Western way of life that’s at stake.”

Jewell’s comments came during a luncheon speech Saturday at the conference hosted by Republican Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who is association chairman, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Sandoval and some other governors object to listing the sage grouse, arguing it would spare hundreds of thousands of acres from development and harm mining and ranching.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is facing a September deadline to decide whether to list the bird as an endangered species and set aside protected habitat for it.

The two-day meeting also focused on energy needs, including fossil fuels and renewable resources such as wind, solar and geothermal. Governors also discussed land management and how to balance the competing needs of people and wildlife.

Sandoval said the West remains a place of great opportunity and growth, and the states are facing challenges in providing resources such as water and energy as a result.

“Across the West, we continue to face growing communities and new challenges,” he said in his opening remarks. “The challenges of these new populations must be met head-on.”

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz touted the Obama administration’s “all of the above energy policy,” which promotes both fossil fuel development as well as clean energy.




Source:  Associated Press

Posted by Jami Howell

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