(Photo Credit:Jerret Raffety/The Rawlins Daily Times via AP)
The federal government must've missed the memo that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
In a particularly chipper press release, the Obama administration hailed the recent decision to keep the greater sage-grouse off the federal list of endangered species as a great conservation success, while simultaneously touting plans to toss another $256 million toward saving the sage-grouse…more. Or something.
Via the White House press release:
Today marks an historic win for conservation and communities in the West and for the United States. Thanks to unprecedented conservation cooperation across the western United States, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced earlier today that the charismatic rangeland bird – the greater sage-grouse – does not need to be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
So we’ve established that the once-threatened sage-grouse, lauded by the administration as a “charismatic rangeland bird,” has made a pretty significant comeback. In fact, this huge and incredibly expensive conservation effort was successful largely because of state and local conservation efforts involving private farmers, ranchers and energy companies that were trying to keep the feds from imposing even more regulations on sage-grouse habitat, thereby costing them a ton of money and business (the same thing just happened with the lesser prairie chicken, you may recall).
But not to be outdone, the federal government just announced 98 brand-spanking new plans covering 70 million acres of land to save the already-saved sage grouse.
Roughly half of the sage grouse’s remaining habitat is found on public lands, primarily managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. After taking into account extensive public and state input, Federal agencies also announced today the finalization of 98 resource management plans that are based on the best available science and address the primary threats to the sage-grouse and its habitat.
In total, these plans will put in place protections on nearly 70 million acres of important sage-grouse habitat.
And, because nothing is free, taxpayers get to pick up the tab for the grouse’s new living situation:
USDA has announced plans to spend another $211 million by the end of 2018 to help hundreds of ranchers conserve or restore more habitat, bringing the total to 8 million acres. And Congress still needs to pass the Administration’s $45 million proposed increase in funds to help implement these public land management plans.
There’s no doubt that important work remains to ensure a bright future for the sage-grouse and the sagebrush habitat.