Letters From the West

Four governors sage grouse meeting cancelled

Mating ritual: A male sage grouse puffs his chest and struts in a lek. the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide by 2015 whether to list the desert bird as a threatened species Provided by USGS/Matt T. Lee

Mating ritual: A male sage grouse puffs his chest and struts in a lek. the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide by 2015 whether to list the desert bird as a threatened species
Provided by USGS/Matt T. Lee

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.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West