Interior Department orders relaxing of sage grouse habitat restrictions

This week Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ordered the implementation of recommendations from a team that reviewed the previous administration’s draconian land use restrictions under the guise of protecting sage grouse. The team — which included officials from Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Forest Service and representatives from the 11 affected states — called for lifting certain restrictions that impacted economic activity without actually affecting sage grouse populations.

Zinke’s 55-page order echoed criticisms that were included in various lawsuits brought by several states, including Nevada. Zinke’s order says the changes are not one-size-fits-all, the very words used by Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt a year ago about litigation he had filed to block the land use restrictions.

Shortly after Zinke announced the changes, Laxalt lauded the move, saying, “I am glad to see this progress on an issue important to so many Nevadans. I agree with Secretary Zinke that the federal government and Nevada can protect the sage-grouse and its habitat, while also ensuring that conservation efforts do not undermine job growth and local communities.”

Nevada’s lawsuit accused the various federal land agencies of violating the law and ignoring scientific evidence when it concocted a 341-page pronouncement in 2015 that 10 million acres of public land in 16 Western states — nearly a third of that in Nevada — would be taken out of consideration for future mining claims, as well as oil and gas drilling near breeding grounds and that there would be additional reviews on grazing permits. The plan envisioned restrictions on grazing, resource development, solar and wind energy, and public access on more than 16 million acres of public land in Nevada altogether. This was being done even though the government declined to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

Specifics in Zinke’s order include recognizing that “proper livestock grazing is compatible with enhancing or maintaining Greater Sage-Grouse (GRSG) habitat” and orders incentives be used to encourage grazing practices that improve conditions conducive to grouse habitat.

While the previous administration failed to even consider predator control as a means of protecting grouse, the Interior Department order calls for research into both lethal and non-lethal predator control. In 1989, the Nevada Department of Wildlife planted 1,400 chicken eggs in 200 simulated grouse nests during the 15-day period when sage hens lay their eggs. All the eggs were destroyed by predators, mostly ravens.

The order also recognizes the need to reduce the overpopulation of wild horses and burros that eat and trample sage grouse habitat, something the previous administrations have been lax about.

It also discusses the need to fund fire fuel reduction and fighting invasive species. It also anticipates flexibility to allow the development of both fluid and solid minerals.

It even calls for experimenting with captive breeding of grouse to enhance the population.



28 comments on “Interior Department orders relaxing of sage grouse habitat restrictions

  1. Rincon says:

    “Specifics in Zinke’s order include recognizing that “proper livestock grazing is compatible with enhancing or maintaining Greater Sage-Grouse (GRSG) habitat” and orders incentives be used to encourage grazing practices that improve conditions conducive to grouse habitat.”

    “The order also recognizes the need to reduce the overpopulation of wild horses and burros that eat and trample sage grouse habitat, something the previous administrations have been lax about.”

    While I’m not at all adamant about Sage Grouse rescue efforts, I have to ask why these two statements aren’t mutually exclusive. Sounds like they’re saying horse and donkey grazing damages the ecosystem, but cattle grazing does not. Or are they claiming that livestock will be in much smaller numbers than the equines?

  2. deleted says:

    I see the problem Rincon; you’re trying to actually reason through what they say.

    See, the problem there is that this policy is not based on reason it’s based on outcomes. The outcome the far right wing is interested in, is more grazing and more mining and well more everything EXCEPT protecting anything that isn’t mining, grazing, or drilling.

    These guys don’t worry about reason, or anything but the above interests because those are their base. America be damned, they want more grazing for the Koch Brothers, more mining for foreign miners, and more drilling for….whomever.

  3. Steve says:

    See that, Rincon. As I stated on the other thread, for you liberals its not about anything other than power and control. Patrick’s (AKA “deleted) post shows that with no holds barred.

    The outcome Patrick wants is total control over all people all places and all things.

  4. deleted says:

    Rincon remember what I said about trying to introduce reason when dealing with those who have no interest at best, and no capability at worst?

    “Cast not your pearls before swine.”

  5. Bill says:

    If memory serves me correctly, horses and burros do have an different impact on the range land than cattle do. Kudos to Secretary Zinke for his action.

  6. Rincon says:

    Is “different” better or worse? Can you find any substantiation for your memory?

  7. Steve says:

    theres the Rincon standard… rebuttal, go prove it!

  8. deleted says:


    Here’s a difference; no one makes money off the burros or the horses eating the range, but a very select few multi millionaires and a fewer number of billionaires, add a few more dollars to their piles when their cows eat that subsidized range.

    That’s one anyway.

  9. Rincon says:

    Bill’s statement is weak enough that it has no persuasive power. I’m not saying he’s wrong, just asking if he is willing to make his statement strong enough to persuade. If he doesn’t bother finding a source, I won’t bother believing him. Not because of some impossible standard though. He implied himself that he isn’t sure. This is all reasonable conversation, Steve. No name calling required.

  10. Steve says:

    what, in my comment, was “name calling”?

    I made nothing more than an ongoing observation.

  11. Rincon says:

    I didn’t say you did. It’s an integral part of your style and I am growing tired of it, so I’m just reminding you that most adults don’t insult or name call on a regular basis.

  12. Steve says:

    Oh,,,,,poor bubbie, you grow weary…..that is easy to fix, start looking for areas where agreement overlaps, for a change.

  13. Bill says:

    One difference between wild horses and burros and cattle is that cattle do not ordinarily stay on one grazing allotment all year around.

  14. Rincon says:

    Steve just proved my point.

    Thanks for the reply, Bill. I can certainly understand how, with people properly managing them, cattle may be moved onto new ground before they do too much damage, while perhaps wild animals would graze until there is no more food before moving on. I’m not sure how to prove or disprove the thought though. For now, I suppose any strong opinion on my part is unwarranted. Either way, the horses and burros need to go.

  15. Steve says:

    See that? I toll dyou to lok for places agreement overlaps. Lo and behold, you found some with Bill!

    As for horses, there are people who are so inured in their own dogma they will never buy into thinning those herds.

  16. Rincon says:

    Easier to find common ground if you receive a reasoned and reasonable message. Insults and obfuscation don’t provide very fertile ground.

  17. Steve says:

    you funny,,,,so easily “insulted”


    And you see “name calling” everywhere none exists.

  18. Rincon says:

    Calling you a liar one time is quite different from the endless stream of venom that you spew. In addition, the “insult was objectively accurate, You lied to me.

  19. Steve says:

    “endless stream of venom”

    For the source, just look in the mirror.

    The only thing pissing you off, is you.

    It’s the old thing about words vs stones and sticks.

  20. Rincon says:

    I’m hardly wounded. Just no longer interested in juvenile conversations. Easily enough accomplished.

  21. James M Laughlin says:

    This Sage Grouse Report is the first view of sanity that I have seen for years – When I came to Elko NV as a Supervisory Biologist with the US Fish & Wildlife – Predator Control Division in the early 70″s- there were thousands of Sage Grouse in Elko Co – The were also a large number of Range Sheep & Cattle – ( The Ranchers took care of the feral horse numbers) We had at that time a robust Predator Control Program – Aerial Hunting and ground control – Very few Ravens and very few range fires – (The livestock were turned out in the early spring on Cheat Grass – Grazed it before it went to seed)
    So why were all these Sage Grouse here during this time– Perhaps they need Predator Control and Livestock to flourish– Anyone ever thought about that??

  22. Actually, a number of people have.

  23. James M Laughlin says:

    Raven chicks are “hard wired” to eat other bird eggs when they are hatched – This is not a learned behavior– It is a surprise to me that with the numbers of Ravens we have in Nevada the Sage Grouse ever raise a brood of chicks We may have more ravens than we do Sage Grouse!!

  24. Bill says:

    Your memory corresponds with mine. Sage grouse were pretty abundant. Again, if memory serves me, it was still permissable to harvest feral horses and sell them.

  25. James M Laughlin says:

    There was a grace period when the ranchers were told to gather feral horses off their ranges and they were to pay a trespass fee – some did some did not gather-Once the Wild Horse bill was passed all horses on the Nevada Ranges were considered wild!!
    That was the beginning of the end for the wild horse management– Nevada Wild Horse and Burro act of 1971– BLM took over the feral horse program and it has been a disaster ever since!!

  26. Bill says:

    Circa 1971, I was invited to go mustanging by some cowmen in Elko. Didn’t go since I didn’t think I was a good enough horseman. Now regret it since it was the end of an era where the cattlement and mustangers controlled the herds, improved their breeding and culling the herd of the unfit. The harvested horses were sold for riding or for animal food. All,at no taxpayer expense. Today, we utilize tax dollars to provide retirement homes for feral horses and asses..

  27. deleted says:

    Circa 1970, i was invited to participate in some local dumping by American Crayon and local industrial chemical company but my parents decided I was a little young for such work. The company managed without me though, dumping their poisons directly into the ground and streams of the community, till the local groundwater turned rust colored and gray, and people started getting sick. Course this was before those bad ole folks at the EPA decided to get involved, and spend all those taxpayer dollars trying to stop this, and other companies, from killing Americans all so they could make their rich owners richer.

    And, American Crayon also did their dumping without the benefit of any taxpayer dollars.

    But that doesn’t make their actions any more laudatory, than the actions of a bunch of ranchers that brutalized animals that didn’t belong to them, just so they could make a few extra dollars.

    Funny thing perspective.

  28. James M Laughlin says:

    The biggest problem we face today with Federal and State Agencies is — these young biologist, who are in charge, and graduated from the Liberal Colleges have never been exposed to ” Predator Control” They were taught it is a bad thing and habitat is the main issue with animal & bird population!!

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