Federal agencies never let the facts get in the way of their paperwork juggernaut

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a deadline of Sept. 30 to decide whether to list greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act and put into effect conservation measures developed by the agency and the Bureau of Land Management. There is almost no chance Fish and Wildlife will not decide for listing, despite what the science and statistics say.

When it does so, about 10 million acres of land in 11 states — nearly 3 million in Nevada alone — will be off limits to economic development. Countless potential jobs will be lost to save a bird that does not need saving.

Sage grouse

According to analysis by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the number of male sage grouse across the bird’s range has increased 63 percent from 2013 to 2015, and that is just in the accessible leks that were counted by hand. That report said population trends in Nevada have been flat since the mid-1990s.

While this may be an indicator that the state’s and local governments and businesses have already succeeded in protecting grouse, it is unlikely to sway the paperwork juggernaut of the federal government.

Gov. Brian Sandoval displayed some of his frustration with the agencies’ lack of cooperation and deafness to reason in a 12-page letter to the acting head of the BLM two weeks ago.

“The process was intended to be collaborative, inclusive and proactive; an unprecedented undertaking to bring federal agencies and states together to craft plans to adequately conserve the Greater Sage-grouse and preclude a listing under the Endangered Species Act,” the governor wrote. “Western state and multiple agencies have participated in this effort in good faith. We have expended millions of dollars and thousands of hours to present a scientific, innovative and effective conservation plan.”

Instead, the states were stonewalled, says Sandoval. He noted that the final 3,500-page land use plan released in May left unresolved, dismissed or ignored issues raised by the state. There was insufficient public notice or opportunity for comment. Scientific methodologies were changed without justification or explanation.

Sandoval said the plan “contains many new elements that disregard best science, Nevada’s state and local plans, and federal law. It is disappointing that this process has changed from a collaborative, proactive approach, to a now heavy-handed, federal approach that uses status-quo approaches and relies primarily on information from federal officials in Washington, D.C., rather than expertise from state conservation and wildlife agencies, and local input.”



16 comments on “Federal agencies never let the facts get in the way of their paperwork juggernaut

  1. Rincon says:

    According to Wikipedia, the Sage Grouse numbered around 16 million 100 years ago and now numbers somewhere between 200,000 to 500,000 and are extirpated from British Columbia, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico. Hardly ready to go extinct, but when a minimum of 31 of every 32 birds have disappeared, it does beg the question of when should we act. Cheap insurance now is better than paying lots of money in the future as we do now for say, the rhinoceros and will soon do for the Monarch butterfly and the honeybee.

    I agree that restricting 10 million acres of land seems excessive, but are there no halfway measures to which we can agree? As with every other issue in this country, compromise is dead. If the Liberals get their way, millions of acres will become off limits. If the Conservatives get their way, the sage grouse may or may not survive, but many other species will go extinct. I cannot predict which will occur, only that the morons will prevail, so massive amounts of money will be spent on some species and near zero for others.

  2. There were millions of grouse 100 years ago, but 200 years ago there were almost none. They flourished with the introduction of sheep and cattle.

  3. Vernon Clayson says:

    Harry Reid had nothing to do with this, right?? The governor wasted his time writing that letter,it’s not about the birds, it’s about sealing federal control of the land and killing any hope Sandoval had of running for Reid’s seat.

  4. EJ Field says:

    It’s too bad Sandoval has been treated by the fed-gov the way he treated the citizens of Nevada.

  5. Rincon says:

    The FWS Beginner’s Guide to the Sage Grouse begs to differ Thomas: “Based on a review of published literature and anecdotal reports the abundance of sage grouse has declined from presettlement (defined as 1800) numbers.”

    Also: “Currently, greater sage grouse occur in…approximately 56 percent of their historical range.”

    Click to access Primer1-SGBeginnersGuide.pdf

    You haven’t been getting your facts from the Heartland Institute, have you?

  6. Winston Smith says:

    Agenda 21.

  7. Getting my numbers from the early explorers. No European was in Nevada in 1800 to count birds.

  8. Steve says:

    I love it!
    “anecdotal reports”
    Are fine if they support your opinion and rotten if they don’t!

    Did you find a time machine to go back to 1800, Rincon?

  9. Rincon says:

    Your partisanship is showing Steve. I made no claim of my own. Thomas made a statement claiming to know the relative population of sage grouse before settlers arrived. I only questioned his statements and provided a source that disagrees with him. Note that he still hasn’t provided his source, but I’m the one to be criticized?

    Since anecdotal reports count for nothing with you, and we know that the population has declined dramatically since we began observations, the only information that you find acceptable agrees with me. As Bartles and James once said, “Thank you for your support.”

  10. FWS: “In summary, since neither pre-settlement nor current numbers of sage-grouse are accurately known, the actual rate and magnitude of decline since pre-settlement times is uncertain.”

  11. Athos says:

    Are those critters tasty?

  12. Not really, or so I’ve heard.

  13. Steve says:

    “anecdotal reports count for nothing”

    I will have to make note of that one for future use.

  14. Steve says:

    Here you go Athos, Sage Grouse Recipe.

    “On a plank, it’s the only way. Clean a bird and rub the inside and outside with real melted butter with salt, pepper and garlic mixed in. Cut several white potatoes into chunks and stuff in the bird. Cut up one med onion and four carrots and stuff inside the bird cover with tin foil and place on grill for one hour then open and coat outside with more melted butter and spice mix. Re-cover and cook for 20 more minutes. Take bird off he grill and remove the foil. Put the carrots, potatoes and onions in a separate bowl and pour out the juices from the inside of the bird over the vegetables. Slice the breast meat into thin slices placing on another plate. Take the rest of the carcass, meat and vegetables and throw them in the trash. Eat the plank!”


  15. Athos says:

    That’s why we need all the illegals, Steve. Eating those critters that Americans won’t eat!

  16. […] the past Sandoval has groused about federal agencies ignoring local and state efforts, saying, “We have expended millions of […]

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