Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s meeting with three other governors to talk about sage grouse has been cancelled.
Otter had invited Utah Gov. Gary Herbert Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead to Boise Friday to talk about state conservation measure for sage grouse. But Mead and Sandoval each had conflicts.
Otter is doing everything he can to keep sage grouse from being listed as an endangered species. He followed Mead’s example and developed a draft state plan to protect sage grouse in Idaho.
Idaho’s sage grouse conservation strategy, developed by a task force appointed by Otter, has been praised by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which will make the decision whether to list the bird as threatened. Brian Kelly, Fish and Wildlife’s Idaho state supervisor, said the foundation of the strategy and most of its elements “are solid, and are grounded in scientific concepts and approaches important to both the Service and the Department of Interior.”
Otter wants to build on this support by coordinating strategies from the four states that have a large chunk of the grouse’s habitat within their borders. The Bureau of Land Management, which controls 50 percent of the grouse’s sagebrush-steppe habitat across the West, is working on a court-ordered plan due by 2015 to protect the bird so it won’t have to be listed.
A sage grouse listing could restrict development, energy exploration and ranching across the West from New Mexico to Washington state.
The meeting now will take place at the next Western Governor’s Association meeting, said Jon Hanian, Otter’s press secretary.