Considering the propensity of federal bureaucrats to ignore the citizens and accumulate more and more power to themselves, I did not see this coming. Today the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the greater sage grouse will NOT be listed under the Endangered Species Act. She credited conservation efforts across the West.
“Our review of the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the sage-grouse is not in danger of extinction nor likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range,” the Fish and Wildlife Service concluded in its usual bureaucratic redundancy in a concise 341-page announcement. (Do they get paid by the word?) “Additionally, we determined that the sage-grouse is not in danger of extinction now or within the foreseeable future throughout either the Rocky Mountain or Great Basin portions of its range. Therefore, the sage-grouse is not in danger of extinction nor likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout a significant portion of its range. Therefore, we find that listing the sage-grouse as an endangered or threatened species under the Act is not warranted at this time.”
This was immediately followed by a warning caveat that state and local officials should pay close heed to: “Our determination today is based on the best scientific and commercial data currently available. That determination, however, cannot guarantee that the sage-grouse (or other sagebrush ecosystem species) will not in the future warrant listing under the Act.”
With that in mind Gov. Brian Sandoval said, ““I am cautiously optimistic that this is good news for Nevada and I am pleased that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has come to this decision, but there is more work to be done. I am asking all local, state and federal leaders including the Sagebrush Ecosystem Council to stay at the table to resolve some key issues and continue their strong advocacy for implementation of Nevada’s plan. We will closely monitor the implementation of this decision so that every option remains available to our state.”
Of course the cactus huggers had a conniption. John Horning, executive director of WildEarth Guardians, spewed, “That is the great tragedy of the day, that this decision would be based on politics not science,” adding that his group will challenge the decision in federal court.
But Rep. Crescent Hardy’s office sent out a press release noting that the good news still comes with a some hard to swallow restrictions, such as the decision to finalize a land use plan to protect sage grouse, even though it is not to be listed.
“I was very disappointed to learn of the Department of Interior’s decision to aggressively advance an agenda that puts the interests of a small contingent of environmental extremists over those of rural Nevada’s hardworking families,” Hardy said. “Today’s announcement confirms this was never fully about protecting any particular species.
“This is yet another stark reminder of the challenges Western states like Nevada face when the federal government controls so much of the land within our borders. Despite controlling 84 percent of the greater-sage grouse’s range in our state, the federal government has chosen to punish our communities for its own mismanagement by severely restricting every Nevadan’s access to our public lands. Without access to traditional land uses in Nevada — mineral exploration, energy extraction, and ranching — states like Nevada wouldn’t be what they are today. This policy not only disregards our historic way of life, but it also threatens the local economies of some of the hardest hit areas from the Great Recession.”