Wyoming Sage Grouse Conservation Continues


Maintaining a vibrant economy in Wyoming is directly tied to the conservation of the sage grouse, according to the chairman of the Sage Grouse Implementation Team which made its final recommendations to Governor Dave Freudenthal today.

Bob Budd presented his team’s report to the governor, who observed that he received it on the same day that several environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit over the bird’s status. 

“They’re suing while we’re doing the work,” Freudenthal said.  “We’re doing what they should be doing – conserving – but they’d rather litigate than fix anything,” he said.

Budd said that if the sage grouse is declared an endangered species, the impact of its listing will reach across the entire state.  “If the sage grouse is listed, roughly 80{4d08edaf359bc2115b18a651716ebd427a137946ddca2143fa23b3ea721061e4} of the state’s surface area is in its historic range and it will have an impact on everything from ranching to oil and gas to uranium,” Budd said.

“This is an effort and a policy that is peculiarly dependent on whoever is governor, in that it is underlain by an executive order by the governor,” Freudenthal said.  “This policy’s in place, it is underway, the sage grouse working group created their recommendations.  We hope that these recommendations will be the guide for the next five years, which is what they figure it’s going to take to get things stabilized in the core areas as well as get some other research done.  That may or may not be true, frankly, depending on who’s governor and it is dependent on the legislative and executive branch support going forward,” Freudenthal said. 

 Audio Clip: “Sage grouse policy dependent on Gov” :46 sec

The Governor said that the Team worked to develop a strategy that was fair, that works for the bird and the state’s economy.  “We’re going to be sued over and over and over again so you have to have a strategy that lasts and is sufficient to withstand litigation,” Freudenthal said.

 Audio Clip: “Gov sage grouse strategy final” :09 sec

The sage grouse strategy includes three top priorities: a finalization of the bird’s core areas; stipulations for sage grouse management by business interests, such as oil and gas, inside and outside of the core areas; and identification of “connectivity” areas that ensure the birds can move around and preserve their genetic integrity.

The report, which Budd said has consistently relied upon the most current science, adds birds inside the core area, identifies an additional 300,000 acres and it’s working. 

“If you’re looking at conservation and you can actually identify and conserve 83.1{4d08edaf359bc2115b18a651716ebd427a137946ddca2143fa23b3ea721061e4} of a species in your area, in roughly 25{4d08edaf359bc2115b18a651716ebd427a137946ddca2143fa23b3ea721061e4} of the state’s land mass, that is a good sign,” Budd said.  “That basically says we got it right and we’re doing things where it needs to be done,” he said.

 Audio Clip: “Budd sage grouse conservation final” :20 sec

The Team was comprised of twenty individuals from diverse sectors, with disparate interests, who worked together and developed points of commonality.

“What inspired me most was the absolute dedication of every single individual to doing what was right for sage grouse,” Budd said.  “They were there to represent an industry, in some cases they could have been there to represent a company.  Realize, we had two oil and gas representatives – they compete with each other – they were there to represent an industry but when they sat down at this table they knew their job was to conserve sage grouse and in doing that to protect their opportunity for enterprise as well.  And we sat down and we had a few spats, but they sat down from day one and understood that responsibility and that’s what they focused on.  There were many times when people who you would least expect would say our job is to protect sage grouse.  And that’s what they did.  On the other side, the conservation representatives understand where our economy comes from.  They understand the importance of maintaining a vibrant economy and they recognized that and they respected that,” Budd said.

 Audio Clip: “Budd sage grouse cooperating parties” 1:04 sec

To see a map of the sage grouse core breeding areas, click here!

Source: Office of Governor Dave Freudenthal

Posted by Kaci Switzer

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x